Martaki – A Bracelet for March
March is the first month of Spring and sunshine can get really intense, so we invented the perfect sunscreen: a bracelet made of white and red threat! Anyone who cares to avoid getting a sunburn and wishes to preserve his fair skin (especially children) must wear one such bracelet, which we call Martaki, from the Greek word Martis (i.e. March). This tradition has its origins in Ancient Greek Eleusinian Mysteries.
On the 1st of March before you leave your home you must put on your Martaki – bracelet. You must wear it at least until the last day of March. When you see swallows in the sky, returning from their winter migration, you can take it off and leave it on tree branches for the birds to take it and use it to build their nests. In some regions Martaki is also considered as protection from evil and people wear it until Good Saturday, when they throw it in the Easter bonfire (lampratzia) to burn.
You can make your own Martaki, all you need is red and white threat; or you can buy one. Many charity foundations sell such bracelets. It will not protect you from the sun, but it will definitely cheer you up and is for a good cause!