Spring is in the ...Data
Keep calm, spring has begun! In this article, we focus on Romanians' perceptions towards the arrival of spring. The research consisted of an online survey conducted on our platform questia.ro which was active between March 6th and March 7th 2018. The survey covered 500 respondents, with a +/- 4% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.
The spring season brings in a lot of changes as well as the feeling of new beginnings and opportunities. The sun shines more often and the temperature rises to a more bearable degree, opposing nature’s prior iciness. Nature’s metamorphosis is a unique show to watch, the withering flowers and the trees’ falling leaves seen in autumn and winter are now budding into flamboyant, lush and vivid plants. Aside from the weather's transformations, this changing effect also affects us, as we also tend to transform our lives, in unison.
As Mother Nature Network points out, even though spring may have some drawbacks to our health (allergies, flu, etc.), it is overall a positive season of new opportunities in agriculture and self-awareness.
People celebrate the end of the dreary winter weather with unique festivals and traditions around the world. AccuWeather, Travel Channel and Travel and Leisure all created lists of unique spring traditions, from exploding snowmen and cherry blossom-gazing to flower festivals.
- In Poland, on the first day of spring, handmade Marzannas are thrown into rivers and streams to signal the end of winter. Marzanna is the Polish incarnation of the old Slavic goddess of winter, plague and death. This ritual is associated with winter's death, with rebirth and dreams.
- The Swiss burn snowmen on a stake once the first flowers begin to bloom, marking the definite end to winter's dark days. Known as the Böögg, this is a popular tradition dating back to the 16th century. The Böögg is often stuffed with explosive.
- Baba Marta, in the Bulgarian folklore, is a cranky old lady who must be treated kindly, or she will bestow more cold, bleak winter days. In modern times, Baba Marta Day is treated as a celebration of spring's proximity. Bulgarians decorate their wrists with Martenitsi, or red and white bracelets that symbolize health and fertility. People hand out the red and white symbols to friends and loved ones to wish them peace and happiness.
- Holi is a celebration of the triumph of good over bad from India, where people participate in bonfires and parties the night before Holi. The next day, the masses gather on the streets for a giant color fight, throwing dyed powder onto each other. The festival originated as a Hindu tradition, but it is now a cultural experience that has radiated to other parts of the world.
- Another interesting tradition is the Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek, Netherlands, which is the only parade constructed of bulb flowers like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils.
- Bosnia celebrates the "Festival of Scrambled Eggs" every March as spring begins. The egg is thought to be a symbol of new life, as the new season starts. Mass amounts of scrambled eggs are cooked in huge pots and then handed out for free.
- Japan's famous cherry blossoms (Hanami) are an internationally-known spring spectacle that take place from late March to early May across the country. To the Japanese, the cherry blossoms sudden arrival combined with their tremendous beauty and fleeting nature, symbolizes the transitional nature of life. Cherry blossom gazing is also enjoyed in China.
- Mexico and Spain’s Las Fallas began in the Middle Ages, when artisans burned pieces of wood they’d saved during the winter in celebration of the spring equinox. Over time, under the Catholic Church’s influence, the holiday has developed into a celebration to commemorate Saint Joseph. The celebration consists of the incineration of ninots, paper-mâché figurines, known as fallas, (made of a combination of paper, wood and wax) stuffed with firecrackers. What’s more interesting is that the Fallas, often satirize politics and social customs.
March starts with three important traditions in Romania: “Mărtișor”, “Babele” and “40 de mucenici”.
Similar to the Bulgarian folklore, Romanians also adorn their clothes and wrists with “mărțișoare”, which are symbolic items offered to the loved ones to wish them a happy spring. “Mărțișor” is a sort of diminutive for „Martie”, the Romanian word for March. They are usually small items, such as handmade flowers, jewelry and figurines tied with a red and white entwined cord. The red is said to represent the spring and the warmth while the white represents the winter and cold.
Some women choose to wear the “Mărțișor” throughout the entire month of March, as it is believed that the one who wears the red and white string will be strong and healthy in the year to come. On the last day of March, they tie the red and white string to a branch of a fruit tree, as it said to bring wealth. This celebration was inherited by Romanians from the Dacians and the Romans.
As Travel Away reports, on March 8th, Romanians celebrate not only the Women’s Day (which is celebrated in other countries too, under the name of International Women’s Day), but also Mother’s Day, honoring mother and motherhood.
The first nine days of March are called „Babele” in Romania, the literal translation in English being „old ladies”. Besides being a rather funny custom, this is also an important local tradition. In this period, the women have to pick a day from one to nine to find out how the coming year will be. If the chosen day is sunny and bright, that means that the year will be happy and wealthy. On the other hand, if the day is rainy and cold, the year will come with tears, sorrow, and poverty.
As Romania Insider states, the legend of “Babele” is associated with the story of Baba Dochia who decided to take the sheep heard on the mountain as she thought the spring came. During the trip, the sun makes her take off the coats, one by one, until she remains without any coat. Tragically, the weather suddenly changes and Baba Dochia freezes. Her death on March 9 represents the passing between the cold season and the warm one.
The ”40 mucenici” or “40 martyrs” are celebrated by the Orthodox Church on 9th of March. This celebration coincides with the start of the agricultural year. People perform several rituals on this day, such as beating up the ground with wooden mallets to drive out cold and unleash the warmth. Moreover, Romanian women bake a special dessert for this day, called "mucenici" (or "little saints").
Recently, Unesco reported that the tradition of wearing “Mărțișor” in spring across Romania, Bulgaria (where it is known as “Martenitsa”), Moldova, and Macedonia was added to its intangible cultural heritage of humanity list.
Below, we present some data to shed some light to these trends.
First of March is associated more with the arrival of spring by 50,6% of respondents, followed by a close 48,8% who think of the Romanian tradition of offering and receiving “mărțișoare”.
50,4% of the respondents both offered and received “mărțișoare”. However, more than a quarter (36,4%) offered these gifts without receiving anything back, while a fewer percentage received without offering in return (13,2%).
We then asked the ones who offered and both offered and received “mărțișoare” to tell us where they bought them from. Most of the buyers chose to acquire these items from the stores and from the fairs organized especially for this occasion. Only 5,5% of the respondents bought them from the Internet.
68% of Romanians chose to celebrate 8th of March, which they associate most with Mother’s Day (66,1%), followed by 62,% who think of it as the International Women’s Day. Less than a quarter (15,4%) celebrate women’s rights to vote/ education/ property/ medical assurance/ etc. on this day.
More than three quarters (80,3%) of the respondents, spent 8th of March with their loved ones (partner, husband/wife) and with the extended family (parents, grandparents, etc.). A rather small percentage would rather spend this holiday alone.
The majority of Romanians (70,8%) would like to receive/offer flowers on 8th of March. Among popular gifts they would like to receive or give to loved ones are also personal care products (37,2%), lunch/dinner invitations (35,8%), jewellery (34,6%) and sweets (31,8%).
“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” - John Muir
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