The first of March is celebrated in Romania, and around the Balkans, as the beginning of Spring and is a lovely opportunity for the whole family to get involved in local traditions.

Originally coins were given on a small red and white thread that women would wear for twelve days to bring them good luck and health in the new year (in ancient Rome and the Dacian calendar the first of March was the start of the new year). The tradition nowadays though is to have a small trinket on the white and red cord, and these are given to female family members and friends to offer good luck and as a sign of friendship. The icons range from the traditional (coins, flowers), to the very modern (Hello Kitty!?) and you can buy mass produced ones as well as beautifully handcrafted ones throughout Romania and Bucharest.  If you are given one you are meant to wear it on your blouse or jacket and then tie it to the first tree that you see in bloom.

Leading up to Martisor the Village Museum is holding craft markets and activities every weekend.

The best place to visit to buy handcrafted Martisor gifts and to see the huge range on offer is undoubtedly the Martisor Market at the Peasant Museum. This runs from Saturday 25th February until Wednesday 1st March itself and covers the entire courtyard area as well as inside areas of the museum to fit the many many vendors in (4lei / 2Lei entrance fee).  Over the weekend it can get very busy, so arrive early or be willing to wait for the ‘one in, one out’ policy to allow your turn.

There are also market stall areas around Piata Romana for example and throughout Lipscani and the Old Town.

Many supermarkets will also have a collection of Martisor gifts on offer (Lidl, Mega Image and Carrefour for example) although these are obviously more mass produced.  Carrefour also produce an annual Martisor coffee mug which is a niche collectors item!