March has arrived and it's time to "smell" a little Spring! Read what the "martaki" that young and old wear on their hands symbolizes.
March or martaki is the name given to the custom in which a bracelet made of red and white rope or threads that have been twisted or woven is worn on March 1 in Greece.
Martis or Martia is an ancient custom, with a Balkan diaspora. It is believed to have its roots in Ancient Greece, specifically the Eleusinian Mysteries. The mystics of the Eleusinian Mysteries tied a thread on their right hand and left foot.
What does the martaki symbolize?
From the 1st to the 31st of March, the children wear the bracelet on their wrist. According to folk tradition, the martaki protects children's faces from the first sun of Spring. The purpose is that they do not burn. They make it on the last day of February. They wear it on the first day of March, before leaving the house.
It is believed that young children are protected either from diseases in general or "so that the sun does not burn them" / so that "the sun does not tan them" or "the eye does not catch them".
They take out this wristband at the end of the month. Alternatively, they leave it on the rose bushes when they see the first swallow, for the birds to take and build their nest.
Why does it have these colors?
According to mythology, the Sun god transformed into a young man and came down to Earth to take part in a celebration. But he was kidnapped by a dragon, as a result of which he was lost and the world plunged into darkness. One day, a young man along with his companions killed the dragon. Thus, he released the Sun, bringing spring.
The young man lost his life and his blood - says the legend - dyed the snow red. Since then, it is customary on the 1st of March for all young men to knit the martaki, with red thread symbolizing the young man's blood and love for sacrifice and white symbolizing purity.