Martisor holiday - spring celebrations in Moldova

Vladlena Martus | Live the World

November 23, 2022

There are various ancient myths and legends in all nations of the world. Some of them are artsy, while others, too unusual and magical to be true. From time to time, it can be challenging not only to explain but also understand them. The Moldavian history also has one curious tradition - a spring welcoming celebration named Martisor. What stands behind this ancient custom of our nation? What does it even mean? Let us try to find out more about this holiday today and explore the history behind it!

© iStock/Janna Danilova

The Martisor holiday legend 

This beautiful tradition of celebrating spring was born from a legend. According to it, on the first day of March, Spring, a woman who was responsible for the spring-coming, came to the end of the forest, looked around, and saw a tiny snowdrop that was trying to appear under the huge snowdrift. Spring decided to help it and began clearing it up. Winter, whose round was over, did not want to go away and got furious. He sent the wind back and brought cold weather, which would destroy everything. The delicate flower wilted under the weather anomalies; however, Spring did not want to give up. She bent over, covered the fragile flower with her hands, but she got pricked by a blackthorn. A drop of blood fell from her wounded hand on the snowdrop. Winter thought that he had won, but the flower came back to life with red and white petals. That is how the Spring came to the Earth and defeated Winter. Since then, in honor of this beautiful savior, people wear small Martisors near their heart, on the chest. If to speak about history - this pagan custom was discovered by archeologists and is no less than 8000 years old! Nowadays, it is preserved among Moldavians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Greeks, Albanians and Romanians. 

© iStock/Radila Radilova

Why exactly red and white colors?

The Martisor, named as the holiday itself, is an amulet or symbol of spring with red and white color. It can have different forms and sizes, and it is worn in March. At the end of this month, we usually hang our tiny holiday symbols on the trees of the city, to honor the memory of Spring, that saved the world from the endless Winter. Martisors are usually sold before the first days of March and can be given as presents to our closest people. Some families even make Martisors by themselves. They happen to be much more sacred, than those bought at the market. Thus, why exactly red and white colors are the primary colors of this amulet? The reason lies in the fact that these colors have sacred meanings. The white color is a color of purity and innocence and it was used in rituals as a 'symbol of the other world'. Also - it represents the transition of a person to a new hypostasis. The red color represents beauty, blood, and fire; in different amulets (as in Martisor), it serves as a symbol of feelings like love, courage, justice, strength, sacrifice, suffering, and power. The two colors' combination means the beginning of something new and the continuation of the generations.  

© iStock/Oleksandra Ihnatieva

Why do we hang Martisors on the trees?

The custom to hang tiny spring symbols at the end of March on trees - is a gift to the Gods, which was considered a small sacrifice. Martisors, as I mentioned before, are worn on the chest all month until the 31st of March, when they are taken off and are hang on blossoming trees. We believe that this great tradition brings success for the rest coming year. Legend says that if you make a wish when hanging it on a tree, it will surely come true. At the beginning of April, there are a lot of little Martisors hanging on the trees all over Moldova. This spring welcoming celebration holiday is truly a national and beloved season for everyone! If you suddenly come to visit us in March, do not hesitate to buy or to make a Martisor with your own hands. Wear it on your chest, and at the end of the month or even at the end of your trip, hang it on the trees in the oldest Park of Moldova. Or even in the Botanical Garden

© iStock/encrier

Happy Spring!

Book a nearby experience

Let our AI assistant help plan your trip

Create a personalized plan and share it with your friends

Never run out of things to do! Sign up to our newsletter today, what are you waiting for?

live the world logoMaking travel planning easy.
Supported bykbc logo
instagram logotiktok logo facebook logo pintrest logo