The 1st of March denotes the beginning of spring in Greece and with spring comes the promise of warmer days and a burning sun. This is the time of the year that my yiayia used to say:
“Απού ‘χει κόρη ακριβή, του Μάρτη ο ήλιος μην τη δει”
This means: “If you have a precious daughter, don’t let the sun of March see her”. In earlier years, a woman’s beauty was defined by her white soft skin. Many yiayias would not let their daughters or granddaughters spend much time under the sun unprotected. And by protection, I don’t mean sun cream…
The tradition says that girls should wear a red and white twisted thread around their writs from the first day of spring. This is called a “martaki” or “the little March” and it is worn to protect the young girls from the burning sun.
The “martaki” is worn until the end of March, and then the red and white threaded bracelet is to be hung on roses. They say that by hanging the thread on red roses will redden the young girl’s checks and will then be taken by birds to build their nests. Some people also chose to keep the martaki until Easter time and burn it in the fire of the resurrection candle.
So go ahead and make your daughter or your self a “martaki” today!
Happy first of March!
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