Wednesday, February 29, 2012

As They Say in Romania.....

Mărțișor Fericit!
Which, loosely translated, means...

Happy March!

During my ten years in Romania I learned to love all the celebrations and traditions. They were joyful, meaningful and heart-warming times, especially if, as an ex-pat, one got to spend those times with a Romanian family. Regardless of the family's financial status there would always be numerous courses of the most fabulous food, and tons of good conversation and laughter. But more about that, perhaps, another time.

The celebration of Mărțișor (pronounced Mertzishore) was a little different, and rather than spending time together over a meal, it speaks of little gestures of kindness given to others, especially on March 1st, to celebrate the advent of spring.
There is much folklore and superstition surrounding the celebration of Mărțișor, as well as Christian and mystical meanings involved, and other countries in Eastern Europe also celebrate, in similar ways.

It was thrilling for me, each March 1st, to walk through Bucharest and see the streets lined with little kiosks, tables and displays, from one end of the city to another, with vendors all selling a multitude of mărțișore -- tiny trinkets (not much bigger than an 'inchie!'). Each trinket is tied with a tiny string braided in red and white, and the idea is to purchase the trinkets and give them to a 'special someone' in your life.

The tradition began, no doubt hundreds of years ago, with men presenting a trinket to their loved one. And since symbolically, it is correlated to women and to fertility as a means of life and continuity, the women would wear the trinket pinned to their clothing until fruit began to appear on the trees. Nowadays, the trinkets are given more as a symbol of friendship, love, appreciation and respect.

I loved giving, and receiving, martisore every March 1st. More recently martisore have become quite 'classy' and are produced in gold, silver or pearl.

Romanians are skilled artisans in every way, so I much prefer the handmade ones  and I actually brought home a few as mementos when I left Romania.

This is my favourite!

These two very pretty trinkets have petals and greenery sealed in clear plastic

My most treasured crystal duckie - given to me by a special friend

So...allow me to wish you Mărțișor Fericit this March 1st, leaving you with a youtube presentation of multitudes of varieties of martisore, no doubt being sold on the streets of Romania even as I write this. Enjoy the pan pipes background music too - so very Romanian!

Some of my fellow bloggers who are extremely creative and talented may find some inspiration here -- even for inchies!


  1. What a wonderful blog post and such a delightful custom. It would have been ideal for ABC Wednesday's 'M' day. I see now how you have been influenced in your art by this custom. You should start a meme. Demonstrate how they are made and then let everyone get busy creating and posting. I'll be e mailing re my blog and your comment.

  2. Is it March already? Don't time fly. Happy me.. whatever you said. Interesting how customs are often so different. March is supposed to herals strong winds and not really a time to celebrate here, we wait until May.

  3. I forgot to say how much I liked the music. Sounds like a recorder, or do they have a special Romanian instrument.

  4. Yes, ChrisJ, I was thinking I should have belonged to ABC Wednesday for this one!

    The background musical instrument is the pan-pipe - so very Romanian; I love it!

    Snafu, it definitely isn't spring here yet, either - more storms on their way today. We don't usually see much of spring until May, either.

  5. Those are really beautiful, Kathy. I do love hearing about the cultures and traditions of other places - thank you so much for sharing. x