Celebrating Martis

Mar, 01, 2017

Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by Celeste

Some years ago my daughter came home from nursery and showed me a red and white string bracelet. She told me that we could not take it off her wrist until the end of March. And we should then ‘hang it in our rose bush for the birds’. It was the first time that I heard about the Greek tradition of the ‘Martis’ and I immediately loved this Greek custom.  We have been making Martis bracelets each year since and th children also do it at school. It is a fun tradition that we look much forward too.

Depending on the region in Greece, there are several variations of this tradition. But the Martis goes back to an ancient annual rite celebrating and welcoming the spring. Adults and children would wear red and white bracelets.  They are made on the last day of February and worn from the first of March until 31 March or on Holy Saturday (depending of the region) There are several explanations for its colors. The general consensus seems to be that the colors represent ‘purity’ (white) and ‘life’ and ‘passion’ (red). I have read of some places in Greece where the colors symbolize the blood of Christ. Other parts connect the white and red to the skin color of an upper-class woman’s face and the sun-burned woman working in the fields. In ancient times, people believed that the bracelet protected the person who was wearing it from diseases and against the strong spring sun. And even now, it is considered a talisman that keeps away the sun, the evil eye, sickness and misfortune.

Martis or Martia is derived from the Greek word ‘Martios’, which is the month of March.

At the end of March, the bracelets are cut off of the wrists. In most parts of Greece, the children hang their bracelets in a rose bush so the swallows can come and take them to make their nests. When the first swallow appears spring has started. Another tradition says that once the person wearing the bracelet sees the first blossoming tree of the spring, they tie the Martis around the tree to keep it healthy and to have a good harvest.

When the children make the Martis, it is usually a simple braid of two strings.

Here is ours:

But you can also buy them in the stores, they are more complex, some with extra decorations or charms and usually looking something like this:

photo credit: Daisy-Nails

Whilst researching the subject I found that the pre-Christian Tradition of the Martis is common in other Balkan countries and the Middle East. In Bulgaria, it is called ‘Martenitsa’ and it is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and usually in the form of two dolls, a male and a female. Martenitsi are worn on March 1 until the wearer first sees a stork, swallow or blossoming tree or until late March. As it is in Greece, the tradition is related to welcoming the spring.

If your family celebrates this March 1st tradition I’d love to hear how you celebrate it!

Have a great new month or as they say in Greece ‘Kalo Mina!’


Celeste was born and raised in the Netherlands but lives in Greece for 25 years. She studied at the Dutch Institute of Athens underneath the Acropolis and currently lives with her family in an Athenian suburb. Celeste is the founder of Family Experiences Blog. Whether you and your family live in Greece or are visiting, this blog will show you the very best ways in which to celebrate family life here.


  1. Reply

    Panos Sakalakis

    March 10, 2017

    You’ve reminded me a lot of good times from when I was a kid. My mother used to make these bracelets every year for me, my brother and my sister and we used to loved them. I think it’s time to do it again – maybe I’ll go and buy a bracelet for old times’ sake. Thank you! 🙂

    • Reply

      Celeste Tat

      March 15, 2017

      So nice to hear Panos. Thank you for your feedback!

Leave a comment

Related Posts


Family Experiences Blog

Hi, Welcome to my blog! I am Celeste, mom of two girls, who loves to travel. I have spent over 25 years exploring beautiful Greece.

When my kids were born, it became my passion to find quality family destinations. Since then, we have been travelling full time around the country to find kid-friendly spots.

If you need inspiration for planning your family vacation in Greece, I am here to help! As a professional travel blogger and passionate insider parent, I review hotels, places to visit and activities for kids.

Whether you and your family live in Greece, or are visiting, this blog will show you the very best ways to make amazing family memories.

Join me as I explore Greece and life with my family, one tiny adventure at the time!

Click here to read more here.

In the press

Sign up for my Newsletter

Sign up for my newsletter to recieve my latest blog posts, tips for Athens and Greece with kids or upcoming family events.

Member of
Listed at

Blog Frog

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” -Saint Augustine
Rent Baby Equipment

Sign up for my Newsletter

Sign up for my newsletter to recieve my latest blog posts, tips for Athens and Greece with kids or upcoming family events.