Wednesday 15 March 2017

March - the Martis bracelet

For as long as my grandchildren have been attending school or nursery school they have always come home on March 1st with a red and white bracelet made of cotton thread tied round their wrists.  This year was the same, even though the oldest is now a teenager.

This tradition of course goes back hundreds of years and is followed throughout the Balkans.  The bracelet, the children are told, is to protect them from the burning rays of the March sun.  This is why the bracelet is called 'martis', 'march'.

The red and white bracelet made of twisted cotton thread is worn throughout the month of March.  The red and the white 'perhaps' represent the rosy red cheeks of the children and the white their pale complexions, though a lot of greek children have a dark mediterranean-olive toned skin

My five grandchildren are out in the sun all year round.  Four of them are rowers and their skins are dark and tanned nearly all  the year.

At the end of March the bracelets are removed and hung on a tree where the swallows can find them and use to make their nests.

This year the grandchildren are going to hang them on our lemon trees.  I haven't seen any swallows yet but  soon they'll be swooping and darting round the trees at dusk, diving and skimming along any ponds or resevoirs.

The March sun is considered unhealthy and sitting out in it will bring you colds and aches.   Most greeks you will see at this time of the year sitting in the shade out of direct sunlight.  It is only tourists and the younger generation 'who know no better' who dare to enjoy the warming rays of the March sun.

15th March  - 
The Ides of March

'Beware the Ides of March',  the soothsayer warned Caesar

15th March
44BC Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus,  Gaius Casius Longinus and Decimus Junius Brutus.  In fact he was stabbed 23 times in the back.  Indeed, beware the Ides of March! 

'et tu Brute?' ('and you Brutus?', Brutus once being his best friend)
as all school children once learnt, were the last words uttered by Caesar

from Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' 

This is also where the phrase/word  'backstabbing' came from

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  1. I've never heard of this. I love it.
    Although March here means, or should mean, that the sun is getting weaker and the days cooler. But I think someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that

  2. I was sitting outside in the March sunshine yesterday, thinking how glorious it was. I hope I don't get those colds and aches.

  3. What a lovely tradition to carry on with thi martins bracelets.
    Do young girls still wear little Greek eyes pinned ti their bras to protect them from the evil eye?. Or is that more for tourists?
    Well this milk bottle skinned Scot sat in the sun yesterday like a lizard face turned to the sky, will risk the unhealthy ness of colds n aches. We do sometimes get a short glimpse of the elusive yellow ball in the sky just to tease us.😀

    1. Young girls don't wear the eye pinned to their bras but you will find them wearing them as jewellery, no doubt having no idea what they are intended for now. My granddaughters have bracelets, earings, necklaces with the blue eye and probably a sticker on their cell phone too!

  4. What a lovely tradition! I love the thought of the swallows recycling them.
    The sun rose about ten minutes ago, now it is hidden under thick cloud - that's our sunshine quota until about a week on Tuesday!

    1. I had no idea about the swallows but my youngest grand daughter told me and said she would hang it on the lemon tree this year. I was enchanted too!

  5. Makes sense about the colds and aches. Chilly and cold - end up with stiff neck and chills. No wonder I never get colds. My mother taught me well!

    1. Good girl. I hope you keep out of draughts too. They can be fatal!