Iowa Writes

ANIA SPYRA
Martisor


Whether in memory of some ancient fertility rites, or because of the International Women's Day on the eight of the month, March is considered women's month in Romania.

At the end of February, the central square of Timisoara, Piata Victoriei, filled up with artisans selling their Martisor trinkets: brooches and pins, cardboard cards and paper flowers, all with a red and white string attached to them. On March 1, also known as Martisor (a diminutive for the name of the month in Romanian), men give these to the women in their lives. Supposedly they can even offer those to someone in the street. Women, in turn, wear these for the rest of the month, or at least till the eighth, as a symbol of spring. They usually cut off the cardboard or the paper and wear the string itself on their wrists wrapped around a button or a watch, or pinned with a brooch. I have been paying attention to my colleagues at the university and they really do wear their Martisor strings. I wore mine only on March 1: my husband insisted, since he bought me a martisor already on Valentine's Day. When I had asked him what it was, he said he was hoping I was the one who would know; we only figured it out two weeks later.

Of course, to my feminist mind, there are overtones of tagging in this whole ritual: strings always attached.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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ANIA SPYRA

Polish by birth and Iowan by immigration, Ania Spyra is an Associate professor of English at Butler and a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She teaches Transnational and Postcolonial Literature, Translation and Creative Writing, and has published widely on multilingualism and transnationalism, most recently in Studies in the Novel and Contemporary Literature.

"Martisor" is one of "Three Romanian Postcards," originally published in the February 2007 issue of 91st Meridian, a publication of the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.

This page was first displayed
on April 04, 2017

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