„The purpose of wearing it is to befriend the sun by carrying his image. Through that one becomes his friend and makes him willing to give everything he can, first beauty as his own, then joyfulness and health, honesty and a purity of spirit. Peasants give mărțișor tokens to their children so that they are pure as the silver and to be protected from fever. The girls say that they are wearing it not to be burned by the sun but also that those who do not wear it will wither.” George Coşbuc
The general knowledge is that the 1st of March tradition is a celebration for the arrival of Spring. It’s most prominent element is a red and white wire gifted together with a token which symbolizes the summer and winter, the good and the bad, the day and the night. The token can be anything, though symbols like clover, horseshoe and chimney sweeper are more common, being said to bring good luck. The tokens are given by boys to girls and by girls to girls with small exceptions in few areas of the country where they are shared with everybody. The preferred tokens are worn pinned to the blouse sometimes even for 2 weeks. The wire is worn around the wrist for the entire month of March. Afterwards the wires are tied in a tree with flowers in bloom of personal choosing for one to be as beautiful as the Flowers of the tree for the year to come.
The 1st of march token tradition also keeps alive the story of „Baba Dochia” – „The Old Lady Dochia”, who is a mythological and folkloric character with origins in the ancient cult of Mother Earth. Like most folklore stories there are many versions of her legend. Some of them tell us how mean she was to her step daughter or her daughter in law. The girl that becomes her target is sometimes the love of her son, Dragobete. Due to the fact that he marries her against her mother’s will and without her blessing she takes it upon herself to punish the unassuming girl. The tasks she assigns to the young girl are meant to be impossible to achieve. However as the story has a hint of fairy tale, the girl always receives almost magical help and gets to stay another day. The tasks include finding fresh fruits in the forest at the end of winter or even turning black wool into white wool. At the end of the story the Old Lady Dochia finds her end on the mountain together with her sheep. Forced by the weather she discards one by one the 12 winter coats that she took on and freezes to a stone for eternity.
At its origins the wire of the token was black and white. Black as the soul of the old lady and white as the heart of the daughter in law. Some say that the blood of the young girl from washing the wool in an attempt to whiten it is the reason behind the change to red an white combination of today. Whichever the version you choose the 1st of March token is a symbol of warmth, love and kindness.
The paragraphs above are part of my latest article on Revista Atelierul. The article is written from the perspective of the expat and it is very close to my heart. You can find both the English and Romanian version here.
Here are this year’s tokens ❤
I love making all this tiny little pieces of emotion, of love that I get to share with the world. And as a bonus at times I get special requests. Bellow are two of them, a lovely little bracelet and a key chain. I was recently told that one ladybug from the first ever batch of ladybugs has been moonlighting as a key chain all this time. She was apparently getting kind of tired so we decided to send her somewhere warm and get her a proper replacement.