Martisor is the traditional celebration of the beginning of spring, on the 1st of March. The day’s name (Martisor) is the diminutive of March (in Romanian Martie), and thus means something like “little” or “dear March”.
Martisor is the symbol of spring. Its beginnings are still a mystery, but it is usually said that it originated in ancient Rome, because New Year’s Eve was celebrated on the 1st of March (Martius), the month of the war god Mars. He had a double role: defender of agriculture and of war, so the celebration signified the rebirth of nature. The duality of symbols is kept in the colors of the Martisor: white and red, meaning peace and war (it might also symbolize winter and spring).
Martisors may be nothing but twisted or woven threads, but often a small medallion or coin is attached, giving the amulet individual character. In some cases, the medallion or decorative part of the Martisor may eclipse the red-and-white threads that are integral to the piece. This medallion can take the form of a blossom, a shell, a ladybug, a heart, or any other shape the maker prefers.
Traditionally, Martisors are worn for a specific period of time. In some regions, they are worn for the first 12 days of March; in others, the wearer keeps them until the end of March or the first sign of spring. But, once worn, it should be transferred to a blossoming tree as a way of acknowledging the onset of spring.
It is believed that the one who wears the red and white string will be powerful and healthy for the year to come.