Spring arrived!

“Martaki” or “Marti”

Every year in Greece, from March 1st until March 31st, people wear a bracelet, made of twisted white and red thread on their wrist.

The red thread symbolizes joy and white symbolizes purity. The bracelet protects people from the Evil Eye and the faces of children from the first spring sun, so they do not burn.

People make this wristwatch during the last day of February and wear it on the first day of March, before leaving home. When March ends, kids remove their bracelets and hang them on the trees for the swallows to grab them and use them when building their nests.

At some areas people wear Martaki on their first toe, as a ring, so that the owner does not stumble.

Swallows and martaki

March is the month of spring migration of birds from the African continent to Greece as well as the rest Balkan countries.

With the healthy swallows also some ill or weak will migrate. If a weak swallow sees something red, avoids it and does not approach. On the contrary the healthy swallow picks up the white-red spinner and carries it to its nest to prevent weak intruders. This way the healthy swallow protects its’ healthy eggs. For this reason, the elders understanding the usefulness of the swallows, prevented the children from playing with them and approaching their nests.

History

The custom is considered to be of Thracian origin. However, some ethnographers claim

that the custom can be traced back in the Eleusinian Mysteries. The ancient equivalent of the modern Greek “martis” is the kroke. This custom is mentioned also in Photios’ Lexicon. The priests would wrap a red thread around their right hand and foot. At that time people used red or otherwise colored threads to protect children and youths from evil spirits and witchcraft.

There is a Bulgarian tale about Khan Asparukh referring to the origins of Martenitsa. Asparukh sent a letter to his sister across the Danube river about his victory over the Byzantine Empire. He tied his message with a white string on the leg of his messenger eagle. The Byzantines though, saw the eagle flying, shot and injured it with an arrow. The message was delivered, but the white string had red stains by the eagle’s blood.

common to all Balkan countries
In Bulgaria

The holiday of granny Baba Marta is celebrated on the 1st of March. Baba Marta is a grumpy mythical figure who brings with her the end of the winter and beginning of Spring. The bracelet is called martenitsi in Bulgarian.

The white color at first symbolized the man and the power light solar zone. Later, under the influence of Christian mythology, began to indicate integrity and virginity. Red used to represent the female element and health, as red would be a sign of blood, conception and birth. In ancient times women’s wedding dresses used to be red.

Martenitsa By
MyLifeThroughTheLens
https://www.deviantart.com/mylifethroughthelens/art/Martenitsa-302682173

A typical Martenitsa consists of two small wool dolls, Pizho and Penda. Pizho, the male doll, is usually predominantly white. On the other hand, Penda, the female doll, wears a predominantly red skirt.

The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring and of new life. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, and so some ethnologists have proposed that, in its very origins, the custom might have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and the sorrow and happiness in human life.

The Martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature, the white symbolizing the purity of the melting white snow and the red setting of the sun, which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses. These two natural resources are the source of life, or male and female beginnings and the need for balance in life.

In Romania

The same festivity has the name Mărțișor. People share red and white strings with hanging tassels on the 1st day of March. In the olden times, the string was red and black. Both women and men wear it pinned to their clothes, close to the heart, until the last day of March. Then, they tie it to a fruit-tree twig. In some regions, a gold or silver coin hangs on the string and people wear it around their necks. After wearing it for a certain length of time, people buy red wine and sweet cheese with the coin. There is a belief that their faces would remain beautiful and white as cheese and rubicund as the wine, all year long.

Martisor By
satsuky
https://www.deviantart.com/satsuky/art/Martisor-117245277

The red thread symbolizes the love for beauty and the white the purity of the flower snowdrop, which blooms in March. Many Romanian customs and traditions have links to this flower. According to mythology, God-Sun transformed into a young man and went down to Earth to take part in a feast. But a dragon kidnapped him, causing the world to disappear and sink into the darkness.

One day a young man, along with his companions, killed the dragon and released the Sun, bringing the spring. The young man lost his life and his blood – according to the legend – stained the snow red. Since then, on March 1, all young people wear this bracelet. The red thread symbolizes the young man’s blood and his sacrifice, while the white thread symbolizes purity.

WordCamp Europe 2018 – Preparations (greek style)

My first WordCamp Europe! Hurray!

I have been excited to attend my first WordCamp Europe, as a newbie in WordPress and WordPress Community.

My story with WordPress started in 2015 and, although I am a new to this amazing world, I try to be an active member and volunteer as much as possible.

I have been an organiser of hometown’s local meetup along with my friend Evangelos Athanasiadis, who introduced me to WordPress and opened a door to a beautiful community. At the same time, I have been a member of the organising team of the first WordCamp of WordPress Greek Community, WordCamp Athens 2016. We kept going with WordCamp Athens 2017 and this year we decided to surprise our community, by WordCamp Thessaloniki 2018. It’s been 3 amazing years so far and hopefully we will keep it like this and even better.

Volunteering @WordCamp Europe 2018

WordCamp Europe 2018, in Belgrade, was an opportunity to offer more to an incredible community. Therefore, we decided that the organisers of meetups and WordCamps in Greece, would apply as volunteers in order to experience this great event all together.

Since this decision, it has been a happy period and when our names got announced as selected to be volunteering and our mails got the message that we were expecting with so much excitement, it was concidered to be party time.

Booking our tickets and arranging our accommodation, spreading the word of WordCamp Europe 2018, wherever we were, arranging meetups inviting Serbian community members to talk about their community and the journey to WordCamp Europe.

And the day came… to leave our country and get in Belgrade.

The journey has just started!

I chose the bus, since the traintrip, unfortunately, was not an option at that point, as the railways in Greece were under construction (Too bad cause I really wanted to . After almost 15 hours of travelling (I left Greece on Sturday 1pm and got in Belgrade Sunday at 3:30am), here I am early in the morning, meeting Fotis and Anastasis from Greece and George from Georgia (this is one of my favourite lines).

Sunday morning, found us a bit sleepy and Fotis working, so we decided to have a brunch, however, it ended up to be lunch at Bistro Grad Hometown Food. We walked till that nice place from our appartment and Anastasis showed us a bit around the city.

Passing by parks with beautiful sculptures like Tašmajdan Park, Anastasis talking about history and buildings and when we arrived at Saint Mark’s church, we experienced also a serbian wedding with many similarities to the greek ones, with a small traditional orchestra accompanying the bride to the church. Got inside the church, minimal comparing to the greek ones, however, very beautiful and spacy.

After a delicious meal, we realised we needed some rest and work so we headed back home, which I soon left again to see a bit more about Belgrade having the best guide I could ask for, Nemanja (if you need a guide for Belgrade, you’d better select a Serbian living there!).

People used to sit on the laps of Nicola Tesla statue outside the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering, in order to take pictures, however I decide to show some respect to the guy and just take a picture of the – so alive – statue. I found it also really interesting that student parties might keep up till the morning at the basement of the university at KST – Klub Studenata Tehnike. The sculptures outside the National Assembly of Serbia did make an impact to me, but I had to take a picture of this bearded guy Nikola Pašić, so I could make fun of my friend and colleague Takis regarding who did it better!

Afternoons can be fun in Belgrade

A coffee at was necessary at Kafeterija, which according to my guide makes the best coffee in Belgrade, and then we passed by Manufactura with the red umbrellas hanging over us to get walking around the Kalemegdan fortress and the park that surrounds it, (full of people walking, enjoying the view, concerts, art and photography exhibitions…) was one of the most awesome times ever, and the view of Sava river was just breathtaking.

However, among the beauty of the city center of Belgrade there lies a mall (a monster of modern architecture), ruining the feeling you may be travelling in time due to the amazing buildings and the history of this place. This mall definitely does not belong here, doesn’t fit…

Available time to walkaround was a bit limited, as we all felt hungry and needed to grab some dinner. Anastasis, Fotis, George, Nemanja and I met at the Central Square, just next to the offices of GoDaddy. This place was about to become our home for the coming days.

The company was lead to Skadarlija, where we realised WordCampers from all around the world have started gathering. Ivana, Taco, Milan, Andrea, Remkus, Bjørn were added to the company. That was a great multicultural gathering! Lots of great Serbian specialties and rakija made by plum, while Yoast, thankfully, took care of the bill!

(to be continued…)