Spring is here! Spring has come! It’s here! Hooraaay!!!
Yesterday was the first day of March, marking the first day of spring but also known as mărțișor (mar-tee-shor). In Moldova people give one another these fun little mărțișor’s as gifts to wear for the month of March.
It is believed that the wearer will be strong and healthy for the year to come. It is also a symbol of the coming spring. Usually, both women and men wear it pinned to their clothes, close to the heart, until the last day of March, when they tie it to a fruit-tree.
I have a couple of fun variations that have been given to me by my host family, friends, and students I work with on a weekly basis. It’s a fun sign that spring is HERE!
Here it is, almost the end of March and signs of spring have been noticeable for a few weeks now. I had great intentions on sharing this information at the beginning of the month, but time has gotten the best of me lately.
The following are the top 5 ways I have discovered that spring is around the corner in Moldova. Enjoy!
1)Celebrate Martisor [mar-stee-shore]…
March 1st marks the first day of spring in Moldova. In honor of this day, known as Martisor, people make or purchase red and white pendents and give them to friends and family. They will wear them for the entire month of March pinned to their clothing or coats, close to their heart. It is believed that when you wear it for the entire month of March that you will be strong and healthy in the year ahead. On the last day of March you then take it and hang it on a fruit tree and make a wish. If the tree blooms in the spring then your wish will come true.
There are also some interesting folktales about the story of martisor, you can read about a popular one here.
International Women’s day is a big holiday that is celebrated very well here. Flowers and/or gifts are given to all women on this day in celebration and honor of the role that women play in every day life. I had to travel to Chisinau that day and met many strangers who wished me a “happy day” and some even smiled. I saw lots of flowers everywhere, many being purchased and many men and women walking through the city with them. I’m pretty sure the demand for flowers for Women’s day in Moldova is probably equivalent to flower demands for Valentine’s day in the US, if not more.
3) Kindergarten children singing and dancing…
Every kindergarten classroom hosts a program called Matineu in honor of their mothers and to celebrate spring. I was able to attend 2 of these celebrations with some of the classes I teach English words to every week. During this hour long program, the young kids are dressed in fancy costumes and they recite poetry, dance, and sing songs about spring and their moms. I had taught them a song in English a few weeks prior to this program called “I love my mommy”…. and the surprise was on me when I got called to the front of the room in the middle of the program to have them sing it (which I was not prepared to do so).
Also, I included a short little clip of one of the songs that took me by surprise – I didn’t know there was a Romanian version of this song. Let’s see if you can recognize it… it was a popular song from 1997. Oh the new things you can learn… I have to admit, I didn’t know what to think of this at first but it’s kinda cute.
4) Spring flowers…
Beautiful spring flowers begin popping up around the beginning of March. Many of them can be found in the forest. My host dad said you can oftentimes find people selling them along the road. The first ones that pop up are snow drops (pictured above) and some small wild purple flowers that I don’t know the name of yet
5) Thick Mud…
Mud… or glod as it is known in Romianian. This is something that is not scarce here in Moldova. In the villages where they have no paved roads it can be extremely muddy, and requiring you to clean your boots multiple times a day. In the city, there is still a lot of mud, but at least there are some parts that you can get by without muddy shoes. Ugh…glod for days.