March in Greece means the coming of spring and Greeks celebrate with the ancient custom of “Martakia” bracelets.
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 to the bracelet. The eye is a long-standing tradition in Greece and 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 — hence the name “Martaki” or “little March” — and is left on for the entire month.
It’s especially popular among 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 Pappas Market, a special place I’ve created to share items with a unique heritage that I’ve come across during my travels or designed on my own.
Only 100 Martakia are available for pre-order until MIDNIGHT on February 14. All orders will ship to any U.S. or Canadian address (sorry, still can’t ship globally for now) starting February 15 via First Class USPS Mail.
Each Martaki costs $10.99 and includes shipping.