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A very excited Murray got out from under the bed and went up on the roof to look for his shadow. There was a bit of peeking sun through the clouds but not enough for a shade. So as of our official 9:AM east Village winter checking time, there will NOT be six more weeks of winter.
According to how today looks, I may update this later in the day.
Ending with the salutation of the day: don’t drive angry!
Update one: this headline in Daily News
Seems the Woodstock Illinois Willie also saw nothing.
The text of the card:
“I know it’s not easy to be a woman but there are some advantages. Enjoy this day which you deserve! Many Happy returns March 8″
In countries that do give a damn, this day is celebrated.
In the old country, mothers, sisters, girlfriends would get flowers and cards and wishes. From men.
Here we get Stupak and Nelson. Endorsed by Obama.
and h/t to wonk the Vote at the Confluence – another special way Obama celebrates us
Here, everyone gets them from me only:
Have a good March 8. And a brighter card
and a video with more cards
But before going into the first day of spring and other weather traditions, I have invited Murray the Groundhog for a few words
Hello! This is Murray, the 14 Street Groundhog. I have been called to help East Village Woody from now on. Not with the shadow sighting, he is pretty good at that. But with hyperbolic tendencies in reading the signs. This year he said winter was over! Six snow storms later, no wonder he wouldn’t get out of his hole. But I am here to say: we groundhogs are not called upon to announce the coming of the spring. Our special skill is merely to say, at the appointed time whether the spring will be late (6 weeks) or not (less than 6 weeks). And, I am saying today, the next two weeks might still prove Woody right.
Now, back to March First or Martisor. Last year I collected all the trivia I found on the occasion – the First Day of Spring and Dochia’s 9 days
So the advice is: enjoy the apparent spring but don’t throw away your 9 winter coats or you’ll end up like those rocks in the picture. (Murray says: not this year. Me: I am buying a winter coat today)
This time I found more Martisor lore from which I picked some new “twists”
It is said that the string from the “martisor”, a rope of 365 or 366 days, was sown by old woman Dochia as she went up the mountain with her sheep. Like the fortune-teller that sew the string of life for each new baby, old woman Dochia sows the string of the year.
It is believed that those who wear “martisor” will not be burned by the Sun during the summer and that they will be healthy, lucky and beautiful like flowers.
There is a big advantage in not having clear origins for a legend. New explanations spring every day. Here’s a new one
The symbol of the Martisor lies in the red and white thread. While red symbolizes in the Romanian culture peace, blood and sun, it is connected to the idea of life and giving life, therefore the feminine concept. White, on the other hand, is usually connected to clarity, equilibrium and wisdom, attributes associated to the masculine concept. Therefore, the union of these two colors symbolizes the essential togetherness of masculine and feminine that preserves the continuous circle of life.
I am giggling as I am pasting this as my mind goes to my latest cartoon of the day where the clarity, equilibrium and wisdom of the masculine are not so clearly on display . But hey, this is about the guys we do love!
Here’s my fuzzy girl sporing her martisor today
Back in the old country, Romania that is, March 1st was considered the 1st Day of spring (astronomy be damned) and celebrated by a beautiful tradition coming to us down from the Romans.
Women of all ages receive this from men of all ages or other women (friends) as well on March 1st and wear them pinned to their collar for about 9 days.
The history and meaning of all this is lost in time – so everyone picks the symbolism that suits them.
Some prefer love and purity for the two colors, I prefer the more obvious winter and spring and the interesting “war and peace”
The 9 days are associated with a legend of Baba Dochia – a meteorological morality tale.
The old Dochia is an ancient agrarian deity, who dies on March 1st and revives on March 9th (the spring equinox in the old folk calendar and the new agrarian year). Dochia reminds of the great goddess Terra Mater and she can be associated with Diana and Iuno from Romans and with Hera and Artemis from the Greeks.
The legend has it that the old Dochia was an evil mother-in-law, who in the first day of March sent her daughter-in-law in the mountains, in search of strawberries. On the road, the girl met an old man (maybe God), who gave her a bunch of strawberries. Seeing the fruits, the old Dochia believed that the spring had come. She put her nine coats (twelve in the Moldavian and Bucovina version), took her sheep and went in the mountains. The warm weather made her take off her coats, one by one. But the frost and the rain came next and the old woman and her sheep turned into ice, which later became rock. The legend has it that this is how Babele (the Old Women) from Bucegi Mountains were formed.
The version I knew had a mother looking for her eloping daughter – and I always felt sorry for her, even before becoming a mother myself. But the point of the story is:
Beginning of March is treacherous. Whether in pursuit of your daughter or daughter in law, don’t throw away those 9 coats, no matter how tempting it may be.
Back to the Martisor. Wearing it the 9 days doesn’t end the tradition. Whatever you do with the charms, hold on to the thread – all the power is in there. Keep looking every day until you find a tree in bloom, and when that happen, make a wish and tie the thread to it
Your wish will come true. Or not – but you spent days, weeks of March looking for the first bloom – and that’s something too.
On more thing: Growing up with the Martisor tradition made for some interesting March 1sts at school. I suppose Valentine’s Day would come somewhat close to explaining it. Seeing this cartoon made me laugh out loud:
My friends and I also had a friendly competition counting the Martisors we got. I won some, lost some – but in interest of disclosure, we all got lots and lots of Martisors.
One more note: There is absolutely no place in US to find the Martisor threads. But living in new York has its advantages: all good bakeries tie their packages in red and white thread. All I have to do is eat well through the year and save the threads.