Greeks are preparing to welcome spring by celebrating an ancient annual custom with the tradition of Martis where both adults and children adorn themselves with red-and-white bracelets made of thread from March 1 to March 31.
It must be threaded the last day of February and the white thread symbolizes purity while the red thread represents life and passion.
The tradition of Martis dates back to Ancient Greece in Eleusis where secret religious rites of were preformed for the cult of Demeter and Persephone. In one of the Eleusinian Mysteries which served as an initiation for the cult, people wore a thread called a ‘kroki’ around their right hand and left foot — and the ancient tradition lives on in Greece till today every March.
In ancient times, people believed that the bracelet helped protect the person who was wearing it from diseases as well as the strong rays of the spring sun in the month of March.
The tradition also entails that once the person wearing the bracelet sees the first blossoming tree of the spring, they tie the red and white bracelet to the flowering tree to yield a healthy harvest and keep the tree healthy.
Another tradition is that when the first swallow appears, returning from migration to welcome the spring, the person wearing the bracelet ties it around a rose bush to encourage the bird to make its nest there.