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Romanian Folk Tale

How telling a Romanian folktale supports diversity

Trinkets given in Romania at the beginning of Spring ©Depositphotos.com/alinbrotea
Trinkets given in Romania at the beginning of Spring ©Depositphotos.com/alinbrotea

If it rains on Sunday I might have a bad year.

 

It’s because of an old Romanian tradition that encourages women to pick a day from the first nine of March and, if the weather that day is poor, that will characterise the rest of the year. But if it’s a fair day, the rest of the year is said to go well for you.

 

Alexandra Dobocan, my colleague, grew up in Romania and explained that they do this every year. She chose today, and the weather is glorious.

 

The tradition comes from Romanian mythology that tells the story of a cruel woman called Baba Dochia. She is an old lady – the best translation of ‘Baba’ is granny – who sends her daughter-in-law into the woods to fetch some berries at the end of February, knowing that spring hasn’t arrived, and tells the girl not to come back without them.

 

Crying and unable to find berries in the wintry forest, the girl is visited by God who gives her the berries so she can return home.

Baba Dochia: The woman who insults the month of March

When Baba Dochia sees the berries the girl has brought for her she thinks that spring has arrived and sets off into the mountains with her goats, protecting herself in nine layers from the cold. As she climbs, she sheds the layers. But at the top, where it is still winter, it begins to snow and Baba Dochia freezes.

 

Like Baba Dochia knew when she sent her daughter-in-law into the woods, the weather at this time of year is rather unpredictable, so picking one of the first nine days of March to predict the rest of the year is risky business.

Romanian celebration of Mărțișor at the beginning of spring

Mărțișor, March trinket ©Depositphotos.com/Jordache
Mărțișor, March trinket ©Depositphotos.com/Jordache

But an amalgamation of traditions has meant that the first week of March is actually a celebration in Romania called Mărțișor, where people go out on to the streets and give trinkets to girls and women – even the police stop cars to give women flowers. People wish each other a happy spring, and boys give girls woven bracelets of red and white string. Often this week is entirely dedicated to women, since the 8th of March is also International Women’s Day.

 

It’s an intriguing tale I never would have learnt without working with Alexandra – it seems that effective diversity is more than just combining our skills to get the best results. It also means learning about cultures and traditions in other countries, the things that shape our personalities and outlook on the world, to better understand those we work with.

 

So having adopted the Romanian tradition of choosing a day at the beginning of Spring, I’ve picked Sunday, and I’m hoping for a weekend of splendid sunshine.

 

Forecasts suggest luck might just be in my favour.

 

You can find Stephanie Mullins tweeting at @SVMullins and the BlueSky Education team at @BlueSky_Edu

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