The “Marti bracelet” is an ancient custom for the beginning of Spring.
According to tradition, the bracelets are worn for the entire month of March for good luck or more specifically to protect people, youngsters especially, from getting sunburn during March which is considered the first month of spring in Greece.
The colour of the bracelets is red and white, symbolising rosy cheeks and a white complexion.
Today, we share one (simple) way you can make your own ‘Marti bracelet’.
What you will need:
- Red thread
- White thread
- Cut 2 strands of white thread, about 60cm each.
- Cut a 60cm strand of red thread.
- Gather the ends of your strings together. Treating them as a single strand, coil them into a loop, then pull the ends through the loop. This will make the knot.
- Tape the string above the knot to a flat surface, such as a table or board.
- Start the braid.
- Maintain a consistent tension. Give the strings a gentle tug to tighten the strings as you braid.
- Fasten the braid end into a knot. Coil the braid end into a loop, then pull the tails through the loop. Tug on the tails to tighten the knot.
- Snip off the leftover threads.
- Remove the tape from the start of the braid.
- Wrap the braid around your wrist and tie the ends together into a double-knot.
They are made of red and white string and are tied onto the wrists.
More specifically, red is meant to symbolise vitality, health and love, victory, life and courage, the light of a rising or setting sun, and the white colour is said to be a sign of beauty, purity, innocence, and joy.
This is the day of the year that Yiayia would say:
‘Απού ‘χει κόρη ακριβή, του Μάρτη ο ήλιος μην τη δει’
This translates to: “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 grandmothers would not let their daughters or granddaughters spend much time under the sun unprotected.
Traditionally girls would wear the red and white twisted thread around their writs from the first day of spring until the end of March, and then the red and white threaded bracelet would be hung on roses. They say that hanging the thread on red roses will redden the young girl’s cheeks and 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 resurrection candle’s fire.
Every region of Greece has its own variation of this tradition. However, most kids in Greece and the Diaspora will be sporting a red and white bracelet on their wrists today.
Kalo Marti to all!