We celebrate the arrival of spring and more specifically March, by wearing "martakia" - meaning “little March” around our wrists.Indeed, we all have worn, these wristbands from time to time with the characteristic red and white color. So let's learn a few things about the "martaki!"
When do we wear it?
Traditionally, we make our “martakia” on the last day of February in order to wear them on the first day of March. They are made by winding up a red thread to a white thread. The red thread symbolizes joy and the white, purity.
‘Martaki” has a long standing history and it is a tradition that is celebrated in Cyprus, Greece and the Balkans. A version of its origins, is that it has roots in Ancient Greece and more specifically in the Eleusinian Mysteries, where the mystics tied a thread around their right hand and one around their left leg.
Why we wear it
According to the tradition, the reason people used to wear “martaki” is that, first of all, it protects young children from the spring sun, secondly it protects from "evil eye", it repels mosquitoes and fleas and, lastly, it protects from illnesses. In other words, “martaki” acts as a charm or as an amulet. Hence many “martakia” have also a small "eye".
When we remove it
According to the custom, on the evening of the Holy Saturday, we remove them and throw them in "Labratzia" (a pile of wood being burnt) to be burned with Judas. And while we are accustomed to this in Cyprus, in some other regions of Greece or the Balkans, the“martaki” is taken off at the end of the month (March) or, sometimes, they leave it on the rose bushes when they see the first swallow so the birds take it to build their nest or even hanging it on a tree to help it blossom.