The first day of March represents the beginning of spring in Greece, since by this time, almond trees and various season flowers have already started to bloom across the countryside, and new baby lambs have been born!
The much-anticipated first day of March comes with the weaving, sharing, and wearing of special Martis bracelets made of a combination of intertwined red and white yarn or string. Worn until the end of the month, these charms are said to protect children and (and adults) who wear them from the Greek sun’s first spring rays.
As tradition has it, some people remove the bracelet when they spot their first spring swallow bird, known as the helidoni. The Marti bracelet bearer makes the offering so the swallow picks it up to add to its new nest.
In some Greek schools across the U.S., it has become a custom for students to weave their own Martis bracelets reflecting Greek traditions, though springtime is usually delayed by quite some time in Chicago and New York. Nonetheless, across the Atlantic in Greece, the coming of March 1st is usually accompanied by warmer weather and sunny skies. What a great welcoming of springtime these Martis bracelets are!
It makes more sense to share this story now – as spring (FINALLY!) begins to peer through the frost in much of the United States!