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Martisor – a beautiful tradition in Moldova and Romania

Every spring on March 1 Moldovans, along with their neighbors in Romania and Bulgaria, celebrate Martisor (pronounced Martsishor). People celebrate the rebirth of life after the hard winter. On this d

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Every spring on March 1 people in Moldova, along with their neighbors in Romania and elsewhere where Romanians live, celebrate Mărțișor (Romanian pronunciation: [mərt͡siˈʃor]. They celebrate the rebirth of life after the hard winter. On this day men offer to their beloved women flowers and martisors (the symbol of serenity and happiness).

The tradition’s origins go back to Dacian times (Romanians’ ancestors). It was previously called “dachia dragobete” – the end of winter. The pin-charm could only be made during the winter months and worn after March 1st. In earlier times, the Dacians would hang little coins from a thin, twisted black and white wool rope. The coin type – gold, silver, or metal – dictated the individuals social status or wealth. The coin charms were originally used to provide both luck for the future and protection from the environment to the wearer. The ropes stood for the advent of summer, warmth, and regeneration (white), while intertwined with the constant presence of winter, cold, and death (black). The amulets were also believed to enhance fertility, provide beauty and prevent sunburn in women! Young girls even threw the amulets toward the sun to prevent freckles! They were worn on the wrist or pinned over the heart. Many wore the pins until trees began to bloom, hanging the amulets in the tree branches after that point.

In modern times, the pins lost their talisman properties and became symbols of love. The black ropes were replaced with red, possibly influenced by the Valentine practice of the western world. The delicate wool ropes are still a “cottage industry” among the country people today. They still comb out the wool, dye the floss, and twist it into thousands of tassels. In certain areas the amulets are still made with black and white ropes – for warding off evil! 

There are a few legends that explain this ancient beautiful tradition.

One of the old Romanian legend says that once in a fight with the winter witch, that didn’t want to give up its place, the beautiful lady Spring cut her finger and few drops of her blood fall on the snow, which melt. Soon on this place grew a snowdrop and in such a way the spring won the winter.

Another legend tells that there was a time when the Sun used to take the shape of a young man and descend on Earth to dance among folk people. Now a dragon found out about this and followed the Sun on Earth, captured him and confined him in a dungeon in his castle. Suddenly the birds stopped singing and the children could not laugh anymore but no one dared to confront the dragon. One day a brave young man set out to find the dungeon and free the Sun. Many people joined in and gave him strength and courage to challenge the mighty dragon.

The journey lasted three seasons: summer, autumn and winter. At the end of the third season the brave young man could finally reach the castle of the dragon where the Sun was imprisoned. The fight lasted several days until the dragon was defeated. Weakened by his wounds the brave young man however managed to set the Sun free to the joy of those who believed in him. Nature was alive again, people got back their smile but the brave young man could not make it through spring. His warm blood was draining from his wounds in the snow. With the snow melting, white flowers, called snowdrops, harbingers of spring, sprouted from the thawing soil. When the last drop of the brave young man’s blood fell on the pure white snow he died with pride that his life served a noble purpose.

Since then people braid two tassels: one white and one red. Every March 1 men offer this amulet called Martisor to the women they love. The red color symbolizes love for all that is beautiful and also the blood of the brave young man, while white represents purity, good health and the snowdrop, the first flower of spring.

Literally Martisor means little March: a small trinket pinned on the lapel by which winter is parted and spring is welcomed.

Since 1967, the Martisor musical festival is held from March 1st to 10th in Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova’s capital. Members of amateur art groups and professional performers from other countries are invited to take part in the festival.

Culture

East or West? Celebrating Victory Day and Europe Day at the same time

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For 3 years, people in the Republic of Moldova have been debating what is more important: celebrating Victory Day or Europe Day on the 9th of May? In 2017, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a law to make Europe Day an official holiday in Moldova, along with Victory Day.

Every political party, regardless of the political views, organize a celebration on this day. This year, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Șor Party organised concerts, parades and demonstrations for celebrating Victory Day, whereas the political bloc ACUM, the Liberal Party (LP) and the National Unity Party (NUP) celebrated Europe Day. Another political actor – the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) tried to please everyone and organised a holiday of “peace and prosperity for Moldova”.

At the same time, the Moldovan Government decided to focus merely on Victory Day and postponed Europe Day for the following weekend, on May 11th-12th. In such a way, they considered the conflict of interests resolved.

Now it’s the proper moment to ask: what is the problem with having 2 different holidays on the same day? In fact, they are not even contradictory. On the contrary, they are related, as the end of World War II and the surrender of the Allies armed forces (which is celebrated on May 8th in Europe) represented an important drive for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community – the forerunner to the European Union. Actually, the only problem with it is the context of the Moldovan social and political behaviour.

First, both holidays are politicized and are transformed into an apple of discord deliberately, as the Moldovan politicians, especially those who are in power today, understand very well that a divided society means a weaker society; therefore, an easier to control society. The debates about directing Moldova to West (the EU) or East (the CIS) never stopped in Moldova. On May 9th, everyone argues about that: the governors, official representatives of the civil society, activists and, consequently, common people that instead of taking time to discuss their real problems, new businesses, initiatives, projects, protests against the injustice that is done to them, most of them are dividing in groups, spreading hatred and treating superficially the true meaning of both celebrations.

People forget that Victory Day is not about expensive concerts organised by the socialists or buckwheat with pickled cucumbers served in the city centre by the democrats. It is not about pompous demonstrations that involve children who are forced to dance synchronously instead of listening from their parents, grandparents and teachers about the tragic consequences of the Second World War.

Children singing and dancing on Victory Day| Photo: ZdG

On the other hand, Europe Day is more than classical music concerts organised in the central park of the Moldovan capital. Behind the exposed photo galleries are people that have been working a lot, searched and applied for European funds, people that didn’t expect somebody to simply come and save them from the poverty, corruption, injustice, etc. Unfortunately, such people are still not enough in Moldova and Europe Day is treated by the majority just as superficially as any other holiday in Moldova: an occasion to eat out, listen to concerts’ music and have fun.

Moreover, the governmental institutions and some big media outlets present the events happening on May 9th as a natural occurrence. So, the fact that several political parties ‘marked’ their territories in the city centre of Chișinău, organizing their own events for their own electorate is considered normal. The direct use of propagandist methods combined with avoidance to declare the events’ costs by the political parties is not a problem in Moldova.

We live nowadays in a country stuck between Eastern and Western worlds, which can perfectly make it without our existence. We live in a country with poor people, morally poor first of all, as we don’t really know much about our past and don’t care as much about our future.  None of these two holidays real meaning is interesting for the biggest majority of the population. We just love their symbolism that takes us back in the past or enables us to dream about the future. May 9th is just another reason to celebrate, not more than that.

Photos: Ziarul de Garda

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Culture

Tatiana Verega, a Moldovan dancer, has achieved a world record for planking

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Tatiana Verega is famous for her successes in the dance world, especially in the US, where she lives for 5 years now. She has recorded a world record after staying in the plank position for 3 hours and 45 minutes. The record has not yet been recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

At the same time, Tatiana has launched a fundraising for the Galveston Chance to Dance program – a dance program sponsored by Tatiana Verega and her dance studio in America, DLS Dance. The funds will help cover the costs of bringing professional instructors out of the state to work with young dancers in summer workshops.

In 2012, the artist decided to go to the USA, and in 2013 Tatiana Verega opened her own dance studio called “DLS Dance Studio” where she trains children. Every day, Tatiana instructs 5-7 classes a day at her dance studio, as well as teaching lessons at various schools in the city. Likewise, another activity that occupies much of his spare time is fitness.

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Culture

A Moldovan violinist was appointed Concertmaster of the Israel Philharmonic

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The Israel Philharmonic has announced yesterday, March 29th, the appointment of 27-year-old Moldavian-born violinist Dumitru Pocitari as its new Concertmaster, noted The Violin Channel.

Dumitru left Moldova when he was 18 years old. He is a graduate of the Tel Aviv University and has been serving as a member of the Israel Philharmonic  Orchestra’s 1st violin section since 2014. He will share the leadership role with current Concertmasters David Radzynski and Ilya Konovalov.

Coming from a dynasty of musicians with more than 3 generations, Dumitru Pocitari is a part of the violinists’ golden generation from the Republic of Moldova. He has won a multitude of great prizes from various international competitions.

The Concertmaster is the first violinist (or instrumentalist) of a symphonic or chamber orchestra who also has a coordinating and supervising role and can replace the conductor.

Photo: ipo.co.il

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