Monday, 9 March 2015

The Legend of Martisor

  The Legend of Martisor


Once upon a time, on a particularly cloudless day, the Sun overheard laughter and joy coming from a small village down below. Taking a closer look, he noticed that everyone was dancing and having fun. The Sun, seeing all of this, resolved to partake in the festivities, so he transformed himself into a beautiful young boy and descended upon the small village. Alas, a fearsome Dragon, jealous of the Sun's beauty and bright light, kidnapped the young boy and threw him into a dark and gloomy dungeon. Without the Sun to light up the sky, the entire world rapidly fell into a state of sorrow. The birds no longer chirped, the streams no longer flowed and the children no longer laughed. No one dared to confront the mighty Dragon.
Until one day that is, when a young hero by the name of Martisor rose up and set upon himself to defeat the Dragon and free the Sun. His journey took him three seasons: Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Summer no longer felt like a season of warmth and beauty. All the plants and flowers had withered away, as everything around turned cold and black. Martisor wandered and wandered aimlessly, with no hope in sight. Suddenly, he could see the shape of a house on the outskirts of a forest. He made his way to the solitary house and knocked on door. A frail old woman greeted Martisor and invited him into her home. When she had heard of his perilous quest, she asked him if he could make a fire and bring in some water. Even though he could not see a single thing before his eyes, Martisor searched high and low until he found dried firewood and a fountain with fresh water. The overjoyed woman thanked the hero from all of her heart, and as reward for his persistence and kindness, she gave him a torch that was said to never go out once lit. With the torch steadfast in his hand, Martisor said goodbye to the old woman and resumed his journey.

The heavy rains of Autumn, exacerbated by the lack of daybreak, made it very hard for Martisor to walk. Fortunately, his torch never burnt out. It did not even flinch, no matter how much it poured or how strong the wind blew. As he was trudging along, the hero noticed another old woman who was crying on the side of the road. Martisor asked her what had happened and was told that one of her sheep had gotten lost. She feared that the poor thing had gotten itself stuck somewhere in the muddy fields. Martisor did not hesitate and immediately began his search for the lost sheep. He fell countless times in the mud, but he always got up, never giving up. Eventually, he heard the sheep whining and rushed over to the animal's aid. Martisor took the sheep from the mud and placed it on his shoulders before making his way back. When the old woman saw the two, her tears of sadness turned into tears of joy. She was so happy to see her beloved sheep safe and sound that in return for his kind-hearted gesture, she gave the brave hero a pair of boots that were said to never get wet. Martisor assuredly put on the boots, and quickly found out that he could walk through the mud and rain with incredible ease.
He said goodbye to the old woman and went on his way.

Winter, too, had become fiercer than ever. Martisor kept the torch close to his chest, but even that was not enough to keep himself warm. In the far distance he noticed another old woman. She was standing in front of a frozen lake, looking doubtful. The kind Martisor approached her and asked her if anything was the matter. She told him that she needed to cross the frozen lake, but was afraid the ice might crack, leaving her to fall into the icy cold water.
The brave hero took the old woman's hand and guided her across the frozen lake, avoiding the shallow parts and melting the blocks of ice standing before them. Impressed by his selfless act, the old woman gave Martisor a beautiful Winter coat that was said to never tear or unravel. He hurriedly covered himself up with the Winter coat and said goodbye to the old woman, who pointed him in the direction of the fearsome Dragon.

When Martisor finally arrived at the frozen lair of the Dragon, he began battling the fierce beast.
The struggle lasted for days on end with seemingly no victor. Both Martisor and the Dragon stood their ground. Ultimately, the Dragon was defeated, and the exhausted Martisor was able to free the Sun, who slowly ascended to his rightful place above the clouds. From there, the Sun once more brought light and joy to the world.
Sadly, his victory came at a great cost. Drained of his power and mortally wounded, the courageous and kind Martisor lay his weary body on the soft snow. As his life came to an end, a fourth old woman came to him. She told him that her name was Spring, and for helping her three sisters, Summer, Autumn and Winter, she promised to take him to a place where all the great kings of yesteryear rested.
In an instant, both the old woman and Martisor vanished.
As a parting gift to the world, beautiful and gentle Snowdrops began to bloom from the hero's blood that had trickled into the immaculate snow. These were the first flowers of Spring.

Since then, on March 1st, it has become customary for young people to weave Two Strings: one Red, symbolizing the love for all that is beautiful and the blood that the young hero shed, and one White, symbolizing health and the purity of the Snowdrops. These are then given to loved ones and tied around their wrist, heralding the coming of Spring.