Every year on March 1st Greek children from all over the world begin wearing their maptia. This is not to be confused with “matia” which means eyes or evil eyes, which we as Orthodox Christians do not believe in. Maptia is derived from the Greek word Maptios, which is the month of March.
Maptia are basically friendship bracelets tied from embroidery floss. Depending on which part of Greece you are from, there are several variations of this tradition.
In our tradition, we made the bracelets on March 1st out of any color string we wanted. When we were younger, our bracelets were fairly simple, usually just a braid. As we got older, they became more complex, usually looking something like this or this (photo below).
Then we tied them around our wrist and wore them until Holy Saturday. Before Divine Liturgy that night, my great-grandmother would cut them off of our wrists and tie them to the pan that the lamb would be cooked in. She would always tell us, “See, your bracelets will burn up and disappear just like our sins do because of Christ’s Resurrection.”
I’ve heard of some places in Greece where the children make their bracelets using only red and white, to symbolize the blood of Christ’s crucifixion and His Resurrection.
Other areas of Greece do not tie their bracelets to a pan but leave them outside for the swallows, or helidonia, to come and take them.
Before Ace started school we would sometimes pack a picnic lunch and go fly kites at the park and make our bracelets there. It was a lot of fun and it made it feel like a sort of celebration. Any way you celebrate it, it is a fun tradition that children look forward to.
Here are some links on how to tie different kind of maptia and other ways to celebrate March 1st:
Several Different Styles
I’ll post pictures of the ones we make today later this week! If your family celebrates this March 1st tradition I’d love to hear how you celebrate!
Have a great day! Kalo Mina!!