Many European countries, such as Romania, Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Albany and Italy have the tradition of celebrating spring on 1st of March. To celebrate the beginning of spring a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn, is worn as a talisman during the month of March or until the wearer firstly sees a blossoming tree.
The Holiday has different names:
The tradition is related to the ancient pagan history of the Balkan Peninsula and to all agricultural cults of nature. Some specific features of the ritual, especially tying the twisted white and red woollen threads, are a result of centuries-old tradition and suggest Thracian, Hellenic or even Roman origins.
It is related to the Roman empire because in ancient Rome New Year's Eve was celebrated on March 1 — 'Martius' — as the month was called in honour of the god Mars. As Mars was the God of both War and the guardian of agriculture the colours of Martisor (red and white) were explained as colours of war and peace.
The Thracians also celebrated New Year's Eve on the 1st of March, a month called after God Marsyas, the protector of land and vegetation. The Thracian celebration of spring was consecrated to him as it was connected t rebirth of nature and fertility.
Initially, the "Mărțișor" string was called the Year's Rope and it was made by black and white wool threads, representing the 365 days of the year. The Year's Rope was the link between summer and winter, black and white representing the opposition and the unity of opposites: light and dark, warm and cold, life and death.
Giving this talisman to people is an old custom, and it is believed that the wearer will be strong and healthy for the year to come. Tradition dictates that ''Martenitsi'' are always given as gifts, not bought for oneself.
In modern times, and especially in urban areas, the Mărțișor lost most of its talisman properties and became more a symbol of friendship, love, appreciation and friendship. They are given to loved ones, friends, and those people to whom one feels close. Beginning on the first of March, one or more are worn pinned to clothing, or around the wrist or neck.
The holiday might differ slightly from a country to another. For instance, in Bulgaria a male doll (a female doll (predominantly red and distinguished by her skirt). On the other side, in Romania and Republic of Moldova a ''Mărțișor'' is only a red and white string with hanging tassel which can be paired with a luck charm in the shape of a horseshoe, clover or chimney. Also, in Bulgaria it is worn only in the beginning of March or until you see the first blossoming tree, stork or swallow, while in Romania it is worn for the entire month.