March – The beginning of Spring! Even-though being a Greek has not been a joyride lately, this time of year has always been mystical and rejoicing. The end of February and the beginning of March holds a series of celebrations and traditions which are connected with ancient pagan rituals to welcome Spring. According to these traditions in the heart of Winter the faithful invoke the deities with special feasts and celebrations to bring Spring once again and ensure the rebirth of mother nature.
One of my favorite customs since I was a child was the weaving of a bracelet called Martis or Martaki (March or little March). According to tradition adults and children wear a Martis bracelet from the 1st till the 31st of March. The bracelet was said to protect those who wear it from Spring diseases and from being burnt by the hot Greek sun. They are traditionally made by twisting two strands of white and red thread with white symbolizing purity and red symbolizing life and passion. This has to be worn, until, you see the first stork or swallow, returning from migration, or, the first blossoming tree, all heralding, the arrival of spring. Then you cut it off and leave it on blossomed tree or a rose bush for the swallows to take and build their nests.
This custom is so old and is believed to date back to ancient Greece and the Eleusinian mysteries. Similar customs are also found in other regions of the balkan peninsula.
Today there are many versions of the March Bracelet and it has become a favorite accessory and a way to express creativity. These two version are the most common with the first being the most traditional one.
All you are going to need is red and white thread, a pair of scissors, and a button preferably of red or light blue color (this colour symbolizes the eye of God and therefore it is believed to protect from evil). I’m not the super traditional kind of type but I enjoy the custom of this bracelet as another opportunity to be creative. Ofcourse be sure to wear your sunscreen and not rely on this bracelet for sun protection 🙂
Take both strands between your thumb and index finger and twist them together. Once finished pass twisted treads through the other hole of your button and secure with a tie knot. Wear your bracelet and adjust the size by creating a knot with both ends (As shown in the first image with the blue button)
Adjust the size right before you are done twisting the threads and leave a loose part on a size of your button to work as a loom. Then secure with tie knot (as shown in the picture with the red button).
Easy, fast and cute huh?
Braid March Bracelet
This version is super simple and cute! Just make a three strand braid with your thread! I used two strands of white cotton yarn (2 pieces each) and one strand of red thread (5 pieces of thread).
Tape your ends after making a knot and start braiding!
Ofcourse you are free to go crazy with your creativity and make your own Martaki
Go ahead, try it, and welcome Spring this year with a special bracelet! Be a part of nature’s rebirth 😉
Featured Image by Greekerthanthegreeks