ANCIENT MACEDONIAN HOLIDAY XANTHIKA- SYMBOL OF SPRING AND LOVE


Xanthika (from Old Macedonian: xant - March) - an ancient Macedonian feast that began its celebration 3000 years ago. This is a holiday of spring, love and nature. The celebration took place on the streets and in theaters through a program of dances, music and rituals. Many ancient writers wrote about the celebration, such as the biographer of Alexander III of Macedon - Quintus Curtius Rufus, Hesychius, Justin and Diodorus. The festival also organized various events, cultural events, sports competitions and military parades. According to the ancient Macedonian calendar, the beginning of the year coincided with the autumnal equinox and the first month October. Hence, the first month of spring Xanthik (March) was celebrated as a blessing of life when the awakened spring light overcomes the winter darkness. 

The legend about one unhappy love...
 According to the Macedonian professor Tashko Belchev, the holiday was in honor of the myth of the unhappy love between the Macedonian god Macedon and Xanthia (goddess of flowers), from which are preserved inscriptions from the VI century BC. According to old legends, the Macedonian god who was son of the almighty god Dia, fell in love with the goddess of flowers - Xanthia. But since the evil forces of some of the gods of the Pantheon turned Xanthia in flowers, the poor god Macedon, every spring searched his first and unforgettable love through all the meadows and fields, in all the clear streams and rivers, in all the flower gardens...
Xanthika is a holiday in which the ancient Macedonians believed that it represents "washing of souls", forgiveness of sins, domination of the awakened spring light over the winter darkness, which oppresses their souls. The symbol of the holiday was a red and white cord braid from white and red thread. From here, something that is preserved to this day in our country, is the martenitsa (martinka), that simply magical red-white braid which we wear on our hands. The white color in that braid probably originates as a symbol of the white dolphin which was considered a gift from God and which lived only in the Aegean Sea, hence the name "White Sea (Belomorska) Macedonia". The spring festival Xantika is very important for the understanding of the worldview of the Ancient Macedonians, for their unification and the formation of their state by the Argeadian kings. Macedonians took the name as an eponym from the name of the goddess of flowers, beautiful Xanthia, and in her honor, they called the spring holiday Xanthika, and the first month Xanthi, which is mentioned in many places in the Bible. It was celebrated spontaneously for a whole month. Xanthika has remained unforgettable to this day. We see it in the celebration of many Macedonian feasts (Prochka, Cvetnici, Mladenci, Lazarica, Todorica, Letnik and Blagovec). We see it in the folk handicrafts, in the originality of the Macedonian embroidery, in the monumentality of our songs and dances, in the sounds of the folk instruments. We see it in the glow of spring flowers. Even today, various events are organized ito celebrate this ancient holiday of the Macedonians.

Every March  the 1st, in honor of the arrival of spring, Macedonians knit martinka, one of the favorite fashion accessories of young people. Knitted martinka is then given as a gift for good luck. Although they are worn by both young and old, children love it the most. For them, every first day of March is like a holiday. It is a tradition on the first day of March for the oldest woman in the family to tie a twisted white and red thread on the hands of the children for health and against evil spirits. Martinka is worn until the appearance of the first flowering tree or the first stork seen. The ritual of wearing martinka is  passed on from generation to generation. So it was, so it is and so it will be every March of the year. The martinka is made of wool, but also of silk or cotton thread. Depending on the imagination of the craftsman who makes them, they can be hand-tied, like balls or cubes, or even mini dolls or lapel bows. Red means blood, life and love, and white purity, happiness.