The “Marti” bracelet a.k.a “Martakia” a.k.a. “Martis” a.k.a “Martinka”, is an ancient Greek custom that marks the beginning of Spring in Greece. The name is derived from the Greek word for the month of March (Martios)=Μάρτιος.
Starting on the last day of February, the tradition is to wear a bracelet made of twisted red and white thread throughout the month of March. The white symbolizes purity and the red symbolizes life and passion. Although the simple red and white string bracelet has been a main staple, today, we adorn the bracelets with charms and beads to make a fashion statement!
With the hope for warmer days and bright sunshine, wearing the Marti bracelet also protects you from Spring’s burning sun. It has been said, our ancestors wore these bracelets for sun protection while working the crops. There are many stories dating back to Roman times, where priests would use the red and white bracelet to ward off evil.
The custom has changed over the years and has become a cute Spring time tradition for children. They are required to wear the bracelet for the entire month or until it naturally falls off. It is then hung on a fruit tree so the tree will stay healthy and have a good harvest of fruit. Of course, adults take part in the fun and wear the bracelet as a symbol of new beginnings and protection from evil.
This custom varies in different areas of Greece and has been adopted around the world especially in Canada, where our Greek immigrant parents have made it their own. In some regions, you can remove the bracelet when you see the first sign of Spring, a blossoming tree, or a swallow or stork returning from migration so the bird can use the thread to build its nest. I have witnessed this happen in my own backyard. It is truly magical!
Wearing the Marti bracelet is one of my favorite traditions growing up. Still to this day, we hang the bracelets on a tree so the birds can bring the kids new spring outfits for the upcoming Easter celebrations. This tradition has definitely sparked the fashionista in me from a young age and my obsession for jewellery.
Personally, wearing the Marti bracelet symbolizes new beginnings and good luck for spring. It definitely helps me feel closer to my ancestry. It is a great reminder to embrace what change brings and to celebrate life’s miracles!
However you celebrate, we wish you all a happy, healthy and bright March season.