Marti, Celebrating the First Day of Spring

The 1st of March is the beginning of Spring in Greece, which brings with it the hope for warm days and lots of sunshine; it also indicates summer is around the corner!  

To help celebrate, Greeks have an ancient custom called “Marti,” which dates back to ancient Greece and it is well known all over the country.

Insights Greece - Marti, Celebrating the First Day of Spring

The name is derived from the Greek word for the month of March, “Martios.” From March 1st, it is a tradition, especially for children, to wear a bracelet made of twisted white and red thread, with white symbolising purity, and red representing life and love.

Children wear the bracelet for the entire month and remove it on the last day of March. After taking off the bracelet, they hang it in a fruit tree, so the tree will remain healthy and flourish.

In several regions in Greece, at the end of the month, the bracelet is placed on rose bushes. In other regions, the bracelet is wrapped around pitchers in order to protect the water from the sun and to keep it cold. Others tie the bracelet around a tree so that it can fructify.

On the 1st day of each month, people in Greece also wish everyone “Kalo Mina”, which means enjoy the month ahead! 

Smashing Pomegranate for Good Luck in the New Year

The pomegranate is a symbol of fertility, abundance, good fortune and prosperity. And according to Greek tradition, if you are wishing for some good luck in the new year, you should prepare for some annual pomegranate-smashing!

Traditionally, on the morning of New Year’s Day, Greek families attend church service and the father of the house takes a pomegranate with him and keeps it in his pocket during mass, so that it can be blessed in the Greek Orthodox church.

When arriving home, he rings the front doorbell or knocks (according to tradition he is not allowed to open the door with his key) and be the first to enter the house in the New Year. Holding the pomegranate in his hand and stepping through the front door – always with his  right foot first – he must throw the pomegranate on the floor with force, making sure it smashes into pieces and that the seeds would spread all over the floor.

While doing this, it is tradition to say “May the New Year be filled with health, happiness and joy. May our pockets be filled with the same quantity of coins as there are seeds of the pomegranate.” The children of the home then gather to see how many seeds there are on the floor. The stronger, brighter and shinier they are, the more blessed the year ahead will be.  

Across the country, you will see front doors of homes decorated with pomegranate during the festive season, as Greeks prepare to welcome in the New Year. And even those who do not attend church service still smash pomegranate for good luck- either when the clock strikes midnight, or the morning of New Year’s day. 

So get those pomegranates ready and Happy New Year to all! 

*Image by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)