Celebrating tradition through ‘Martisoare’ on the vibrant streets of Bucharest

Photo source: Citinerary, Oana Rus
Photo source: Citinerary, Oana Rus
Photo source: Citinerary, Oana Rus
Photo source: Citinerary, Oana Rus

The following article was syndicated from Citinerary for Interesting Times Bureau. Published by Alexa.

From the end-February until the first week of March, Bucharest is home to several ‘Martisor’-themed street fairs.

“Martisor” is a Romanian tradition celebrated on the 1st of March – declaring the arrival of spring – and heralding optimism and joy. On this day, women receive small gifts, all having in common the red & white traditional string. While the string may be offered on its own or accompanied by a flower, during the last decades, jewelry or other small objects started to be attached to it.

This opened a whole new universe for artisanal design: artists, from the most traditional to the most modern, started reinterpreting the tradition, giving it different flavours and personalising it according to trends and own perceptions of the tradition.

And so, from end-February until the first week of March, Bucharest is home to several “Martisor”-themed street fairs — from small, street corner ones to “spend-half-a-day-trying-to-decide” ones. The city’s face changes to a very colored, vibrant and festive one.

The biggest, most important such fair, held at Muzeul Taranului Roman (The Museum of the Romanian Peasant) gathers artists that reshape the face of “Martisor” each year. We talked to Andra and Tudor, the people behind Lovemade, one of the indie brands present at the fair:

“Back in the day — in the 70s and 80s — when our parents used to design Martisoare, chimney sweeps and trefoils were extremely popular symbols: indications for spring cleaning or good luck charms.

Meanwhile, times have changed and our daily lives have become increasingly urban. We try to reinterpret and bring into the contemporary the meaning-depleted forms of Martisor, that each year reinterpret the same few Romanian symbols. Through an etno-contemporary fusion, we try to give the Martisor a new “soul” – designing accessories that also attract the younger generations.” 

“In order to keep the tradition going, we believe that the way a Martisor looks should equally attract the slightly blase, critical and art-savvy Millennials, who, through the Internet, are exposed to the latest graphic and artistic trends.”

– Alexa – 

Featured image source: Citinerary, Oana Rus