Happy Martisor! Today is my favorite day in Romania. Every first day of March, Romanians celebrate the imminent coming of spring and the love that puts spring in our steps all year long. Martisor means Little March and it is an all-purpose holiday, kind of a combination Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, but much more inclusive. Women without children or significant others are not made to feel left out, with their loneliness and lack flashing like an insatiable neon light while they watch women who already have those relationships receive even more.
In Romania, everyone buys little charms with red and white streamers on the street corners and presents them to friends, teachers, and neighbors – mostly women – to pin proudly on their coat lapels. The weeklong festivities culminate with International Women’s Day, celebrated by much of the world on March 8. Any woman, regardless of marital or reproductive status, qualifies for this day. (C’mon, Americans, let’s get on board! We call "football" soccer and we don’t use the metric system, but let’s join with the rest of the world on this.)
To herald the coming of Martisor, little Snowdrop flowers push their hardy tips through the snow. Delicate white teardrop petals adorn this winter flower, but its tenacity and survival instincts are unseen. I’ll never forget one particular Martisor (I think it was 1993) when a fierce snow storm dumped several feet of the white stuff onto Bucharest. That March came roaring in like a lion, but we knew it wouldn’t last long. The Snowdrop flowers had already appeared and we knew spring would soon burst forth. Martisor is a reminder that there are good things to celebrate in life, that the hard times won’t last forever, and there’s hope in sight.