Sunday, March 7, 2010

1st Snowdrops of March


The annual Miracle of late Winter displays its power once again as the first Snowdrops of Spring emerge from the frozen soil. The festival of Martisor celebrated in Eastern Europe nonetheless is very appropriate to this land as well. Its traditional symbol is the Snowdrop.

The festival of Martisor is one of the most ancient in Europe. I have written about it every year and one year retold an ancient legend that explains its symbolism.

It is believed to have been brought to Eastern Europe by the Thracians or Dacians. The month of March is named for the god Mars and is sacred to him. The festival of Martisor probably has its roots in Roman Festivals at the beginning of March. Among the Dacians, the god was Marsyas Silen.

Martisor is both the name of the Festival and the name of the charm that is worn in honour of the Festival. The charm primarily consists of threads of two different colours twisted together. Originally, a small coin was attached to the threads. Traditional good luck symbols including chimney sweeps, shamrocks, and tiny figures often are used instead of coins in contemporary Martisor charms.

It is traditional to give a Martisor to women of all ages. Given often on 1 March, it is pinned to the chest and worn until the advent of Spring is seen either in the form of the first blossom on a tree or the first flight of birds across the sky.

In other traditions, girls and women collect rainwater, snow or dew early in the morning on 1 March (or until 10 March) and wash their faces in it, believing that the water has special purity and potency for beauty.

Although the Martisor has become a personal charm, it originally protected home, land and livestock. Part of the ritual of creating the Martisor involved precise measurement of the doors, house gate and window frames, and the twisted threads would be placed at each location as well for protection. Martisor would be placed on the horns of livestock and on buckets, again for protection against evil.

Earliest Martisors found in archaeological sites in Romania are 8000 years old and consist of rocks painted blue and white, tied together with a cord to be worn round the neck. Later, white and black yarn was twisted to create the talisman. The colours of the Martisor ultimately became white and red. It is said that the white represents snow, purity and the Snowdrop and red symbolises blood, the Sun and life itself. Twisted together, the string assumes the power of the ultimate union between male and female with life-giving potency. This probably is the reason why Martisors have become part of a tradition rather like the Valentine, given by men to the women who are dear to them. Now, however, Martisors can be given to members of either gender and can be a symbol of friendship or of family ties as well as romance

I made a video for Martisor last year. Here is my video:

I thought I would share some one else's video about Martisor as well:

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