Martinka – A health and happiness amulet

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A handmade amulet

for health and happiness, made at the start of March, symbolizes the start of spring season, life, health, happiness, fertility… This tradition is widely spread across the Balkans, especially in Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, among others. Also, it’s the holiday of Grandma March. We sometimes call it Crazy Grandma March, referring to the frequent change of moods (weather conditions) this month brings.

The main colors

in the making of Martinka are: red, symbolizing blood, life, vitality, health; and white, symbolizing happiness, purity, new life, rebirth.

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Martinka bracelet (red & white wool)

Starting the first day of March,

usually, elderly women and mothers, make this woven string amulets, typically wool, for their kids and relatives. Some children make these at home or at school. Moreover, one could gift Martinki to their friends, as a friendship bracelet. Sometimes, it could be made as a leg bracelet as well. Tradition has it that one should wear it on their left hand, although people tend to wear them on each hand, or somewhere on their clothes.

Once you spot the first tree in blossom,

or see a swallow or a stork, you make a wish and hang your amulet on some tree branch. These traditions vary across the Balkans, though.

Whether as a health, happiness, friendship amulet,

or a symbol of spring, the person you give it to would feel happy, honored, and appreciated that you have taken the time in making something special while thinking of them.

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