Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Legend of Martzishor

Legenda Martisorului, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things
In Romanian culture (and other South-Eastern cultures, like Bulgarian - they call it Martenitza) there is a very old Legend that symbolizes the arrival of Spring.

It is said that long time ago the Sun transformed into a young man and descended in a village to dance. A dragon kidnapped him and threw the Sun into a dungeon. The whole world saddened: birds wouldn't sing, rivers wouldn't flow, kids wouldn't laugh anymore. Nobody dared to fight the dragon, though.

Martisor, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things
One day, a young villager decided to go and save the Sun. Many people walked with him for a while and gave him some of their own powers, to help him fight the dragon.

The young man's journey was long and it lasted for 3 seasons: summer, fall, and winter.
Finally he arrived at the dragon's castle and the two started to fight. They fought for days and nights until the dragon was finally defeated. Powerless and hurt, the young man barely managed to free the Sun, who flew into the sky and brighten the world. Spring came!

Legenda Martisorului, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things
But the young man couldn't feel spring anymore. His warm blood tainted the snow and upon melting it from the ground bloomed beautiful white flowers, the snowdrops, the spring heralds.

Since then - young people braid together two threads: one red and one white, and they offer them to the girls they like. Red symbolizes love for beauty, reminding of the young man's blood, the white symbolizes health and purity, reminding of the snowdrops, the first flower of the Spring.

Martisor, Martzishor, Marteniza on March 1st :: All Pretty Things

This is one of the oldest customs in Romania. Some say it's over 8,000 years old... apparently 8,000 yo charms painted red & white have been found; I don't know for sure :)

All I know is that come March 1st all the girls and ladies in Romania will wear a charm (usually a flower or a small animal - all symbols of nature, often a 4 leafs clove, a chimney cleaner, a horseshoe - all symbols of luck) tied with a red & white thread. It is called 'Martzishor' after the name of the month of March (Martie in Romanian). It is a beautiful custom, one that I love and we keep in our household (with my son bringing these charms to school on March 1st to all his colleagues :))

Do you have a special custom or tradition you love? Please share it - I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. What an interesting story, I didn't know that.

    I am Italian, from the South, and we have lots of them. They tell the world who we are, our history and I think it's beautiful that you keep this one alive.


    1. Thank you, Ambra (you have a beautiful name, btw :)).

      Oh, we have so many stories like this - and I am sure you do too. I like this tradition because it's not linked politically or religiously, it's based on nature and the change of seasons, it is universal. Thank you for stopping by and sharing the story!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate and love to read your comments!