Martis: The Greek Tradition Of Welcoming Spring

  • by XpatAthens
  • Tuesday, 22 February 2022
Martis: The Greek Tradition Of Welcoming Spring
Spring is just around the corner and, like every other year, Greeks will welcome the new season with an ancient annual custom. 

The ancient tradition of Martis, from which the month of March gets its name, dates back to the cults of Demeter and Persephone, thousands of years ago, when the faithful used to wear a bracelet called a “kroki” around both their right hand and left ankle, as a form of initiation into the cult.

Surprisingly, this tradition still lives on today and it is a way to usher from winter to spring. According to this tradition, if you tie a red and white string around your wrist on March 1, it will protect your cheeks from burning in the sun. The bracelet must be woven on the last day of February, with the white thread representing purity and the red thread the color of sun-kissed cheeks. In ancient times, people thought that the bracelet protected the person wearing it from sickness. 

In some parts of Greece, the bracelets are taken off on the first sign of spring, when the first flowers begin to bloom or when the birds start returning from their winter migration. Then they are tied around a branch of a tree to keep it healthy and help birds make their nests.

In other regions of Greece, they're thrown into the fire that is used to burn the floral first of May wreaths!