Archive for February, 2009

Happy Martisor

Back in the old country, Romania that is, March 1st was considered the 1st Day of spring (astronomy be damned) and celebrated by a beautiful tradition coming to us down from the Romans.

Martisor – “little March” is a thread – red and white blend with some sort of a charm hanging on it

Women of all ages receive this from men of all ages on March 1st and wear them pinned to their collar for about 9 days.

Even our girl dog got one today

The history and meaning of all this is lost in time – so everyone picks the symbolism that suits them.

Some prefer love and purity for the two colors, I prefer the more obvious winter and spring and the interesting “war and peace”

The 9 days are associated with a legend of Baba Dochia – a meteorological morality tale.

The old Dochia is an ancient agrarian deity, who dies on March 1st and revives on March 9th (the spring equinox in the old folk calendar and the new agrarian year). Dochia reminds of the great goddess Terra Mater and she can be associated with Diana and Iuno from Romans and with Hera and Artemis from the Greeks.

The legend has it that the old Dochia was an evil mother-in-law, who in the first day of March sent her daughter-in-law in the mountains, in search of strawberries. On the road, the girl met an old man (maybe God), who gave her a bunch of strawberries. Seeing the fruits, the old Dochia believed that the spring had come. She put her nine coats (twelve in the Moldavian and Bucovina version), took her sheep and went in the mountains. The warm weather made her take off her coats, one by one. But the frost and the rain came next and the old woman and her sheep turned into ice, which later became rock. The legend has it that this is how Babele (the Old Women) from Bucegi Mountains were formed.

The version I knew had a mother looking for her eloping daughter – and I always felt sorry for her, even before becoming a mother myself. But the point of the story is:

Beginning of March is treacherous. Whether in pursuit of your daughter or daughter in law, don’t throw away those 9 coats, no matter how tempting it may be.

Back to the Martisor. Wearing it the 9 days doesn’t end the tradition. Whatever you do with the charms, hold on to the thread – all the power is in there. Keep looking every day until you find a tree in bloom, and when that happen, make a wish and tie the thread to it

Your wish will come true. Or not – but you spent days, weeks of March looking for the first bloom – and that’s something too.

On more thing: Growing up with the Martisor tradition made for some interesting March 1sts at school. I suppose Valentine’s Day would come somewhat close to explaining it. Seeing this cartoon made me laugh out loud:

My friends and I also had a friendly competition counting the Martisors we got. I won some, lost some – but in interest of disclosure, we all got lots and lots of Martisors.

One more note: There is absolutely no place in US to find the Martisor threads. But living in new York has its advantages: all good bakeries tie their packages in red and white thread. All I have to do is eat well through the year and save the threads.

Happy Martisor!


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Groundhog Day

The G day is here and as you may imagine, Woody saw his shadow

(and I saw mine as well).

So, here are the people who called it right from Maya’s interviews yesterday: Bonny, Michelle, Arish, Johnny,Stella, Elisabeth, Jeff and Maddie.

We also decided to accept “Woof” from Boongo and “Meow” from Knowser as good guesses.


The rest of us may be still proven right by the weather. I shall keep track – just as I did 2 years ago when Woody predicted a long winter and Phil and Chuck a short one – Woody was right! In the meanwhile, remember: Don’t drive angry!

and remember the Groundhog Day party last year?


Staten island Chuck cheated again, lying through his big teeth: said “No shadow”

Staten Island Chuck to Punxsutawney Phil: Fugetaboutit!(Phil saw his shadow)

I have checked the meteorological map – there was no cloud over Staten Island anymore than over Manhattan

But Chuck gets points for style anyway:

The Staten Island Advance reports that the interaction between Chuck and the mayor was pretty amusing, “Though Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried luring Chuck out of his house with an ear of corn, Chuck snapped at the mayor’s hand, grabbed the tasty treat and ran back in. As Bloomberg reached for him, the groundhog tried hiding in the corner before eventually being lifted out.”

Second update

The second part of the day was cloudy so, I would say – 3 weeks of winter?

or going with Charlie’s prediction:

“dubious shadow”

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Imbolc/Groundhog Day party

One of the best parties of the year is still going on! We were blessed with miraculous wether – after yesterday 20s, we had 53 degrees today! No wonder East Village Woody came out one day earlier and showed up in the garden

to interview people and find out about our predictions

We’ll see tomorrow who was right and who was wrong

We had a fire, dance and playing

…music and jumping over the fire – just watch the video

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