Monday, 1 March 2010

Banana Celebrates

Martisor Day/ 1st of March Romanian Stylee...marking the official start of Spring, one of my favourite times of the year. The smell in the air, nature coming back to life, the hyacinths, the cherry blossoms...lovely! A Romanian tradition, taking place on the 1st of March, celebrating the arrival of spring. Guys buy these (pronounce: Martzishor / Martzishoare - plural) and give them them to girls on the first of March. Everyone gets one: Mom, girlfriend, sisters, friends, the girl at the corner shop, your favourite waitress, and so on. "Mărţişor" is the name of the gift item, and by influence, the name of the day as well. The small gift items are tiny handmade objects of everything and anything nice and fun, small tokens of flowers, animals, ceramics, textile, wood, feathers, stones, paper figures, artsy stuff, often made by students and young artists. There are even 24 karat gold-plated ones with half-precious stones, for the "business class". The craftsmen sell them on the streets, for about a week before the 1st of March arrives. The red-and-white ribbon, made out of silky yarn is the "shnur", common to all Martisors. Girls usually wear them on their chest as broaches, usually for a few days after. They will put on the nicest ones they've got (or simply rotate them to match to the day's outfit), or those that they get from someone special) The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health, heralding the coming of spring and celebrating life. White is the colour of the departing winter, and red is the colour of the sun and newborn life. White as a color symbolizes purity and soul, red is a symbol of life and passion. The woven thread can also symbolize the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and bad, of sorrow and happiness in human life. Given as an amulet in the spring, when nature gets reborn and starts blossoming again, is not only a reminder of the balance, but also a wish for health, strength and happiness. Having lived abroad for so long now it sometimes happens that I almost forget about certain customs and traditions mostly because you can't really share the same sense of occasion or what they truly mean and have meant to you at one time in your life...I guess it's the same when people over here ask me if I remember a certain kids show from back in the day and I have no idea what they're talking about so sharing that memory with me doesn't translate very well because I can't relate to it in the same way as their other peers. On the one hand it's quite sad I guess but I'll always treasure the memories of every year on the 1st of March going to school, heart beating so fast in anticipation at the thought of how many of these special talismans/tokens I' d receive. Proudly wearing them as a kind of status display - of course the more you received the more you felt like you had so many friends - you'd inevitably built something of a collection and we took great pride in comparing who's got the best looking ones, or at least the more expensive looking ones...I miss those days, they were just great and it's funny looking back realising how much this whole ritual meant to us, carefully setting aside your favourite tokens for the friends who meant the most to you...oh the days... I absolutely love spring time for the flowers and the smell which again, it is still such a vivid memory for me from back in the school days...the snow drops, the tulips and of course my all time favourites the lovely and delicate hyacinths...everything comes back to life once again and turns from grey to colour...have a lovely spring everyone!

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