Martenichka - Meaning of Red and White March Bracelet


Martenichka - Meaning of Red and White March Bracelet

A simple bracelet made of white and red threads entwined and braided, worn on the wrist as of March 1: Martenichka.

On the first day of March, the famous martenichka or "martaki" is usually worn on the wrist. This is a very old tradition for the Balkan countries.

This tradition has its roots in Ancient Greece and especially the Eleusinian Mysteries. The mystics of the Eleusinian Mysteries tied a rope to their right hand and left foot.

Today and throughout the month, children and adults wear a bracelet made of twisted white and red thread on their wrists. According to folk belief, this bracelet protects children's faces from the first sun of spring so that they do not burn. It is prepared on the last day of February and worn on the first day of March before leaving the house.

In fact, when the moon is over, they take off this bracelet and when they see the first swallow, they leave it on the rose bushes so that the birds can take it and build their nests.

It is believed that the wearer of the martenichka, especially young children, is protected from diseases in general or from sunburn.

Symbolically, the color white and red are often found in superstitions to ward off some evil. Ancient Greek writers also mention this.

In "Dream Interpretations" Artemidorus describes various wreaths of witches, Virgil in "Vucolics" mentions colored strings tied three times to a lover's image to seduce him.

In history, Petronius speaks of multicolored threads tied around the neck. The Byzantines, on the other hand, speak of the use of dyed threads against the evil eye. In ancient times, in the Eleusinian Mysteries, young mystics wore crocuses on their right hands and feet. It is understood that the tradition of Martenichka dates back to very old times.

In central Greece, this red-and-white bracelet is taken off and hung on the highest branch of trees near the houses where the swallows nest when March ends.

In folklore, it is mentioned that children should respect, love and not disturb the swallows because they function as "domestic" birds that make their nests on the walls of the houses, on the grounds that they are useful because they destroy insects, especially mosquitoes. However, the fact that the swallows carried mosquitoes in their beaks during their journey from Africa, which is harmful to humans, also frightened the people. One of the reasons for wearing these bracelets was that the adults knew the diseases these flies carried and did not want them to infect their children.

According to the belief, if the sick swallow sees red, it avoids it and does not approach it, on the contrary, the healthy swallow collects the red-white rope it finds on the high branch of the tree and carries it to its nest.

Also, in Bulgaria, Romania, a small pin, called a March, is attached. It is known that this tradition also exists in North Macedonia, Albania and Moldova.

The tradition of the March bracelet is practiced in the same way as Martinka in North Macedonia and Verore in Albania. The inhabitants of this country wear bracelets made of red and white thread so that the sun does not "catch" them and take them off at the end of the month or when they see the first swallow.

Some tie March to a fruit-bearing tree to make it bloom, while others put it under a rock and believe that if they find a wolf next to them the next day, the rest of the year will be just fine.

Also, on the first day of March, Bulgarians wear ornaments made of white and red threads called Martenitsa on their collars. In some parts of Bulgaria, locals put a piece of red cloth in front of their homes to prevent the "Granny Marta", the female personification of March, from burning their homes.

Martenitsa acts as a talisman in the consciousness of the Bulgarian people, traditionally presented even as a gift among family members, along with wishes of health and well-being. The red and white ornament of March 1 is called Marchisor in Romanian. The red thread symbolizes the love of the beautiful and the white symbolizes the purity of the snowdrop flower, which blooms in March and is closely related to many Romanian customs and traditions.

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