Mărțișor is an old Romanian celebration at the beginning of spring, on March the 1st. Symbolically, it is correlated to women and to fertility as a means of life and continuity. Mărțișor, marţ and mărțiguș are all names for the red and white string from which a small decoration is tied, and which is offered by people on the 1st day of March. The string can also be black and white, or blue and white. Giving this talisman to people is an old custom, and it is believed that the one who wears the red and white string will be strong and healthy for the year to come. It is also a symbol of the coming spring. Usually, women wear it pinned to their clothes for the first 12 days of the month, until other spring celebrations, or until the bloom of certain fruit-trees. In some regions, a gold or silver coin hangs on the string, which is worn around the neck. After wearing it for a certain period of time, they buy red wine and sweet cheese with the coin, according to a belief that their faces would remain beautiful and white as cheese, and rubicund as the red wine, for the entire year.
In modern times, and especially in urban areas, the Mărțișor lost most of its talisman properties and became more of a symbol of friendship or love, appreciation and respect. The black threads were replaced with red, but the delicate wool ropes are still a ‘cottage industry’ among people in the countryside, who comb out the wool, dye the floss, and twist it into thousands of tassels. In some areas the amulets are still made with black and white ropes, for warding off evil.