Romanian Traditions in March
1st of March - Mărțișor
For celebrating the spring’s arrival on the 1st of March and the beginning of a new life cycle, Romanians have a special tradition, called Mărțișor. This tradition is a very old one (about 8000 years old) and it is linked to Romanian ancestors - the Dacians, who were wearing red and white pebbles strung on a string and worn around the neck, to celebrate the beginning of spring.
The word mărțișor is the diminutive from the month of March (martie), which is also the folk word for this month. Mărțișor is a small object made from wood, plastic, fabric, or metal, whichhas a red and white fabric string attached to it. Usually, the charms are representing a four-leaf clover, a chimney sweeper, a horse shoe, a lady bug or a snowdrop (another important symbol of the spring). The white thread symbolizes clouds, snow and wisdom, while the red one represents fire, blood and passion. It is a perfect symbol, like Yin &Yang, where masculinity is combined with femininity.
Boys or men offer these lucky charms to girls/women (in some parts of the country- in Moldova- the tradition is the other way round). The gesture of giving and receiving this amulet is very important and it brings luck, health and happiness to the people.
Nowadays, one would wear a Mărțișor either pinned to the coat and close to the heart, or tied around the wrist. After wearing it for a certain period (9 days or the entire month), Mărțișor has to be hung in a fruit tree.
1st - 9th March - Babele (Old ladies days)
During this interval, women/girls have to choose a day. If on that day, the weather is nice and sunny, this is how one’s entire year will be. If the weather is bad, it means that the coming period will not be that good for that respective person. Other people interpret the weather conditions as a reflection of a person’s personality. The next 9 days are dedicated to men/boys and they should follow the same principle as mentioned before.
8th of March
On this day, people in Romania celebrate the International Women’s Day. Men cherish their wives, mothers, or girlfriends by offering to them flowers or other small gifts.
9th of March
It is a religious celebration, the day dedicated to the 40 Saint Martyrs from Sevastia. Now, women prepare măcinici/mucenici. These are baked figure-eight dough served with sweet syrup, honey and ground nuts, or figure-eight noodles (in Muntenia) and boiled in syrup, with nuts, sugar and cinnamon. These mucenici are usually given away for the souls of the dead. Another tradition related to this day, is to drink 40 glasses of red wine to celebrate the memory of the Christian soldiers.
Also, on the 9th of March people should clean their gardens or fields and make a big fire meant to purify everything and get ready for the new harvest.
The legend says that Baba Dochia (Dragobete’s mother) was an old lady, who, on the 1st of March, decided to take her sheep to the top of the mountains. When she left her place, she was wearing 9 winter coats (cojoace). Because the weather was getting warmer and warmer, Baba Dochia took off a coat every day. On the tenth day, winter came back and Dochia and her sheep froze and turned into rocks. This legend warns people that they should be careful because winter might return any time during these days.
Have a blossoming spring!