As Spring begins, everything comes back to life. To mark the beginning of a new cycle of life, Romanians have a special tradition, called Martisor.
Origin of Martisor
The day of March 1, according to the old calendar, was considered the beginning of the New Year, the celebration of Spring’s arrival. Martisor is an over 8000 years old tradition, born in the lands where now Romania is. In the time of the Dacians (Romanian ancestors), spring symbols were made during winter and were worn starting with March 1st. Martisor were then white and red pebbles, strung on a string and worn around one’s neck. The red color, given by fire, blood and sun, was attributed to life, hence to women. White, on the other hand, conferred by the clarity of water, the white of the clouds, was specific to the wisdom of men. Besides, the cord of the Martisor expresses the inseparable interweaving of the two principle as a permanent movement of matter. It signifies the exchange of vital forces that give rise to life, the continuous cycle of nature.
The significance of Martisor remained the same over time: it’s a symbol of spring, of the returning to life. It brings optimism and faith. Back then, Martisor was attached to a rose or a blossoming tree, to bring luck, or was thrown in the direction from which wandering birds came, saying “Ia-mi negretele si da-mi albetele” (Take me the black and bring me the white” – meaning take away the surrow and everything negative and exchange it to happiness and good things).
The legend says that the Sun descended in a village, at the village dance, taking the shape of a lovely girl. A dragon watched her and abducted her from the crowd and trapped her in a dungeon. The world was so sad. Birds stopped singing, rivers stopped flowing and children stopped laughing. Nobody dared to confront the dragon. But one day, a brave young man decided to go save the Sun. Many people led him and gave them from their powers to help him overcome the dragon and release the sun.
The journey lasted three seasons: summer, autumn and winter. He found the dragon’s castle and they began fighting. They fought for days until the dragon was defeated. Feeble and wounded, the young man released the Sun. It rose in the sky, chearing up people. It revived nature, people have rejoiced, but the brave young man never got to see spring again. The hot blood from his wounds drained in the snow. While the snow was melting, white flowers were blooming, Snowdrops, the messengers of spring. Even the last drop of blood dripped in the pristine snow. He died. Since then, young people knit two tassels together: one white and one red. They offer them to the girls they love or to their loved ones. Red means love for all that is beautiful, reminiscent of the color of the brave man’s blood. White symbolizes the health and the purity of the snowdrop, the first flower of spring.
Martisor is worn on “the days of Old Dochia” [Zilele Babelor] that are between 1 to 9 March. In present times, the custom is to pick a day from this period and it’s said that depending on how that day will be, that’s how all your year will be. A sunny day predicts a good year and a gloomy one a bad year.
In some regions, Martisor is worn during the whole month of March, then attached to the branches of a fruit tree. It is believed this will bring wealth into people’s homes. They say that if someone makes a wish and hang Martisor on the tree, it will come true soon. In early April, in a large part of Romania and Moldova’s villages, trees are decorated with Martisors. In Moldova, the musical festival “Martisor” takes place every year, starting on March 1 until March 10.
In some counties of Romania, Martisor is worn only in the first two weeks of March. In Transylvanian cities (center Romania), Martisors are hanged on doors, windows, horns of domestic animals, because it is considered that it can frighten evil spirits. In Bihor county it is believed that if people wash their face with rainwater fallen on March 1, they will become more beautiful and healthy. In Banat, girls wash with snow so they will be loved. In Dobrogea, Martisors are worn until the arrival of cranes, then thrown in the air so that their happiness will be great and have wings. In Moldova, on March 1 girls give Martisor to boys and they give them Martisors back on March 8 (this differs slightly from the rest of the country). The Festival of Martisor can be found in the Balkans at the Aromanians and Megleno-Romanians, as well at the Bulgarians who call it Marten/ Martenitsa (Мартеница) and also in Macedonia and Albania.
Martisor can be basically any good-luck token that has attached the red-white martisor string. Most commonly used are the four-leaf-clover, the chimney sweeper, horse shoe and ladybug. Also, traditional models are ones made out of dry flowers casted in amber or small metal broches.
In the last years though, the trend has changed a bit and there are many who prefer wearing the bracelet Martisor (it’s like a friendship bracelet) – such as the ones below, as there are more and more people who like and do handmade designs.
Apart from these rather traditional Martisor, you can gift/receive a martisor in so many other forms, from jewelry or scarfs to flowers that have attached one red-white string. One wears a Martisor either pinned on its tshirt/coat etc or tied around the wrist.
Either way you like to wear it and whatever model you prefer, we hope it would work it’s ‘magic’ and bring you a happy prosperous year
What Fuels Addiction?
Millions of people suffer from an addiction of some kind. For many, it’s illegal drugs and narcotics which are incredibly powerful. Others, however, are addicted to substances which are available to buy over the counter. From cigarettes to alcohol, the numbers of people who abuse legal drugs are astounding. Even coffee is exploited with an estimated 90% of Americans consuming caffeine on a daily basis. Everyone’s path is different, yet the result is always the same. So, what causes people from varying backgrounds and cultures develop a craving that is too strong to shake? Here’s what the experts believe.
The Dopamine Effect
Dopamine is the chemical in the brain which is released when people take drugs. What’s dangerous about this substance is how it relates to feelings of happiness and pleasure. In simple terms, it makes a person experience emotions which they have never been familiar with before. And, it’s as if they are heightened and timed by ten. This goes for every substance from heroin to cigarettes. Although certain drugs are further up the pleasure scale, they all encourage the brain to release dopamine. Yes, that goes for sex and food, too.
In short, chemicals are what cause the addiction to take hold in the first place. However, everyone has a threshold, just like pain. Some people can stand a small shot of dopamine without the neurobiological changes impacting the brain. They are the individuals that can use drugs recreationally without developing a severe addiction. Others aren’t as lucky and one hit can be enough for the brain to adapt to the point where it needs a shot of dopamine. The men and women that have a low threshold are more likely to be victims of addiction, and that is a genetic lottery.
Lack Of Consequences
No one can click their fingers and recover within a matter of seconds. Addiction takes a lifetime to overcome. Still, some people don’t have the means to quit because there are zero consequences. At least, they aren’t powerful enough to make an individual want to stop. Smoking is a prime example. Employers don’t issue a probation drug test on a Monday morning, so consuming nicotine isn’t a life wrecker. Sure, smoking can be deadly and cause cancer, yet smokers can’t see the changes so don’t care. Food and alcohol are two other addictions which lack consequences.
It’s cliché but it’s one that is true. Friends can be a bad influence on a person, especially if the individual wants to be liked. Not taking a hit can highlight people as not cool and square, and guys and girls take it to heart. As a result, they experiment with a range of drugs and get hooked in the process. Peer pressure is also a factor in gateway addiction. First, it’s beer, cigarettes or marijuana, and next, it’s cocaine or ecstasy. Before long, it’s something incredibly powerful and potent.
Finally, there are the circumstances of the individual. Lots of addicts have a similar background because homelessness or poverty can force their hand.
How To Deal With A Family Crisis
It’s something that we don’t like to talk about – and understandably so. But if disaster and tragedy strike your family, the sense of shock and unreality can threaten to derail everything in your life. From bankruptcy to wrongful death and from natural disaster to serious injury or illness – of course we don’t want to talk about them. If your worst nightmare does actually come true- who do you turn to? How do you process it? And what do you do to begin some kind of recovery?
Acknowledge That The Worst Happened
It’s perfectly normal to struggle to process your feelings after something unimaginable happens. And many of us want to bury our heads in the sand- but that’s one of the worst things we can do. If we don’t acknowledge we’re under incredible stress, we can’t begin to practise stress management techniques, which can be seriously harmful to our mental and physical health.
Talk About It
Approaching a tragic or difficult topic can be hard, especially if you want to speak to someone who hasn’t had experience of anything similar themselves. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but talking about it will help you process what’s happening. Support groups can offer a lifeline in connecting you with other individuals in similar situations.
Take Care Of Yourself
Self-care can feel trivial, irreverent and even too self-indulgent in the wake of a huge impactful event. However, it’s important to still take care of the basics – exercise, a reasonably healthy diet and not falling into the traps of drugs and alcohol as a false escape to your problems. Try to limit nicotine and caffeine, which can exacerbate stress. Your health may be fragile so taking time to take care of yourself is warding off further problems at a difficult time.
Access The Right Support
If you need legal counsel, make sure you do your homework. Don’t be pressured to rush into a decision, but find a firm with a track record in the kind of specialist representation you need, such as GJEL who are experienced in wrongful death suits. Choosing the wrong people to work with can mean further stress at exactly the wrong time.
Do Something Positive
At a time when the world appears to have been unspeakably cruel to you, you have two choices. Either react with hate and bitterness, and you get sucked into a negative cycle which can quite literally destroy you. Or make the choice to give out something positive, no matter how small. Taking positive steps can restore a feeling of control for you and make you feel that the world isn’t such a hostile place. Look at volunteering opportunities, or do something such as giving blood. Little things can make a big difference to your mindset.
Ask For Help
Don’t feel it’s wrong or shameful to ask for help when you need it- it’s actually a sign of great strength. Find a mental health professional if you feel that you need support to move on from devastating events. Friends, relatives or spiritual leaders can also be very important at this time – remember that you don’t have to cope alone.
Medicine: From The Study Of Gods To Healing Robots
Throughout history, civilizations all over the world have sought to fight disease, postpone death and relieve suffering. After all, as being healthy is by far the best and only way to enjoy a longer life, it appears evident that doctors would have developed fascinating medical approaches and knowledge throughout time. The history of medicine, however, is a tale of mankind evolution, knowledge and, more often than not, a tale of beliefs. It is because today modern doctors believe that science has most answers — and will one day have all answers — that the role of the healer has changed from a holy figure to an experienced scientist. While there have been many eureka moments, the story of healing the body is not only a story of unsung medical heroes, but also a portrait of how human beings perceive their world.
The Gods made me sick
The earliest documented doctors that archaeology has revealed were Egyptian physicians 5,000 years ago. While there might have been doctors before that time in other countries, Egyptian papyri are for now the earliest evidence of medical knowledge. However, these writings attribute the responsibility of the health of the people to the pharaoh. In those times, healing methods were groups in sacred centres and consisted mainly of religious rites and ceremonies designed to ask the Gods for health. Another belief of the time was that diseases were the result of an angry deity. Consequently, the ceremonies needed to appeal to the Gods and offer a sacred apology for the offence. The belief that the divine could influence human health lasted for centuries, as even in the Middle Age, healing sacrifices were still encouraged in Pagan communities.
Studying the cure
Nowadays the approach to finding a cure has changed greatly. Scientists, and especially lab scientists, rely primarily on the observational study of patients in the retrospective of existing data as well as the investigation outside of clinical trials to find evidence of a cure’s success. This scientific process is relatively new in the world of medicine and dates back from the Industrial Revolution. In fact, people invented the steam engine before they understood how to diagnose and make more effective medications! But with the evolution of the observational field, more and more medical professions dive into the complex relations between the body and the mind, from a standard GP to a specialist neurologist.
Can robots heal us?
Finally, the evolution of medicine isn’t over yet. There is still a lot that doctors don’t understand, and a lot that they can’t treat. Consequently, new healing methods are discussed all over the world. Doctors have stopped waiting for a divine answer. Instead, they have been building nanobots, which will be able to navigate the body to repair internal damage locally. What sounds still like a sci-fi story is expected to happen by 2030. Will the human health be in the hands of robots? As surgeons already rely on robotic technology in the operating room, internal bots could be the next big heal!
In the end, the story of medicine is still to be continued. But it remains, for now, a story that highlights the resourcefulness of mankind and its desire to understand and manage the cause of all diseases and maybe, one day, defeat death too.
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