Today, Romanians say goodbye to winter and celebrate Mărțișor, a tradition marking the first day of Spring. Women across the nation will receive a red and white trinket called a mărțișor, which is typically given to them by friends and family members as a sign of respect and appreciation. It is also said that the person who wears the gift will have a prosperous year. Although mostly worn by girls and women, men also receive a mărțișor in some parts of Romania.
The celebratory day dates back thousands of years to when the new year started in March (Martie in Romanian). In ancient Roman times, river stones painted red and white were worn around the neck on pieces of string until the trees began to blossom. The charms were then hung from the trees’ branches. These days, a woman might wear her mărțișor all month, pinned on clothing or tied around the wrist to bring good luck, vitality and fertility.
Even entire households join in on the celebration by hanging a red and white string at their gate to guard against evil spirits in the new year. The white represents the male principle (a clear head, forward planning, proactivity) while the red reflects the female principle (the warmth of blood and soil, fertility, childbearing).