To what felt like a winter that lasted a lifetime, spring has finally come around! The time has come for you to throw your thick coats, wooly gloves and fluffy socks back into the box and pull out your more colorful outfits, in preparation for the spring season. March marks the beginning of spring here in Greece – flowers begin to blossom covering the trees and grounds in an abundance of different colors, filling the air with sweet aromas. Long gone are the days of dreary weather. Following the return of the nation’s best friend, the sun, Greece comes alive again.
According to Ancient Greek history, annual cult rituals were carried out in the village of Eleusis, in honor of the goddess, Demeter and queen of the underworld, Persephone, where participants would wear a thread on their right arm and left foot. Rumor has it, that the custom of “Martis”, or “March” in English, originated from this ancient Greek myth. In Greece, many people celebrate the “Martis” spring tradition whereby both children and adults can choose to wear a bracelet consisting of one red and one white strand twisted together. It has been said that the bracelet was made to protect people from diseases as well as the harsh rays of the sun. Fortunately for us, sunscreen and hats were invented and dependency on the bracelet for protection eventually faded out – no excuses for sun burns this summer!
After wearing the bracelet for the whole of March, there are a number of different things you can do with your bracelet. In several parts of Greece, the red and white thread is placed on a rose bush after spotting the first swallow; this is done so the birds can collect them to build their nests. In other parts of Greece, people tie their bracelets around trees in hopes that this will provide the tree the chance to fructify. In some other cases, people either grow some sort of attachment to their bracelet and refuse to part with it until it breaks off, or they simply forget that they have it on and continue wearing it.
There are a variety of different kinds of bracelets that are sold all over Greece and even throughout some other Balkan countries. Get involved in this March tradition and purchase your own bracelet – who knows what you will do with it at the end of the month!
From us here at Grekaddict, Kalo Mina – Have a good month, and a great start to spring!