Martisor, the “little March”, “Märzlein”, “petit mars”, “piccolo Marzo”, is a token of new beginnings and rebirth, a promise of prosperity; today, more of friendship and esteem.
One of the Romanian legends says the sun reached down to Earth in the mold of a beautiful girl. A brave young man challenged the dragon that incarcerated her in a terrible fight, and his blood trickled then onto the snow. Free again, the sun returned at his place and softened the cold, turning the dashes of blood into sprouting, gentle snow-drops. Red and white, the hues of war and peace, of life and death, but likewise of passion and purity.
On this day, the ancient Romans used to celebrate the “Matronales Feriae”, as well as the New Year’s day and Mars, the God of war but also the warden of nature’s fertility and revival. Husbands used to give gifts to their wives. Possibly the Romanian original custom to wear and give silver or gold coins, swinging on a twilled thread of white and red wool, took form during the Roman jurisdiction, fusing with superstitions and traditions of the conquered Thracians and Dacians.
Wore from the 1st throughout to the end of March, or at least all along the first twelve days of it, the “little March” would defend against all evil and bring luck. For success and wealth, it should be tied to the branch of a young tree afterward. And, in the process, one’s wishes may come true.