March in Greece means the coming of Spring and Greeks celebrate with an ancient custom of the “Martaki” bracelet.
Always made with red and white woven thread, the colors symbolize purity and passion and have their roots in antiquity from the Eleusinian Mysteries, where the priestesses tied a thread around their right hand during services.
A tiny “mati,” or eye, is usually attached– a long-standing tradition in Greece and the Balkan nations, which people believe wards off evil spirits, jealousy and other negative energy and protects the bearer.
The bracelet is tied on in early March– thus the name “Martaki” or “little March” — and is left on for the entire month.
It’s especially popular amongst parents with small children, who consider the bracelets “lucky charms” for their kids.
Like any custom that has its roots thousands of years in antiquity, specific aspects of the Martaki have evolved over time, as well as throughout regions of Greece.
According to some traditions, people remove the bracelets on the Saturday of Lazarus. In other places they are removed on Holy Saturday and tossed into the fires where the effigy of Judas is burned.
In rural villages, when the bracelets are moved, they are hung on fruit trees, passing on the positive energy and good luck to the crop.
I’ve selected the Martaki bracelet to launch my very own “Curated by Gregory Pappas” collection, which will feature periodic items that I source from small produces in Greece that have a unique heritage behind them.
Only 100 Martakia are available for pre-order. All orders will ship to any U.S. or Canadian address (sorry, still can’t ship globally for now) on February 20, 2020 via First Class U.S. Mail. Each Martakia costs $11.99 and includes shipping.
Curated by Gregory Pappas is my newest addition to The Pappas Post where I’ll feature a small quantity of a specific item that I’ve come across during my travels in Greece— or elsewhere in the world that I feel shares my own passion for Greece. My intention is not only to share products with you, but also the story behind the product.