On March 1, Romanians celebrate the coming of spring in their own unique way – through the symbolic martisor (or trinket). The tradition is said to have originated in Roman times.

Martisorul are small objects that women receive on this day from men, as a symbol of their respect and admiration. Initially made just from two twisted threads of wool, one colored red and one white, the trinket has evolved, incorporating a small piece of jewelry or something hand crafted attached to the red-white lace. The red is said to represent the summer, and the heat, while the white represents the winter, and the cold. Some people say that the two colors represent love and honesty.

Men offer martisoare to women between March 1 and 8 as gifts, and most Romanian women expect to receive something – either a trinket or its more expensive version, jewellery with a red-white thread, or a flower, during this period from the most important men in their lives, as well as from colleagues and business partners.

Women wear the martisor all March, as it is believed to bring strength and health for the year to come. Some women pin one or more ‘martisoare’ on their blouse, while others just wear a red-white lace on their wrist. At the end of March, the red-white threads are tied to a branch of a fruit tree, said to bring wealth.

Women too can exchange flowers and trinkets during this period, but it is not a must, some choose to do it, others not. Some decide to give trinkets only to some close friends and family, rather than to every woman they know and happen to meet during that period.

On March 8, Romanians have another celebration – Women’s Day. It’s the day when, as a sign of respect and gratitude, all women should receive flowers and gifts. Women’s Day ends a cycle of celebrations, which begins on February 14.