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March, Tavaszelő
March, Tavaszelő

Gólyák (storks) Tiszatarroson

March is the first month of spring, it is the rebirth and renewal of nature.  Snowdrops are emerging from under the snow, birds are ready to build their nests.

On Bishop Albinus’ day (March 1st), before sunrise, the Székelys bottled water from the well, and used it to heal all kinds of illness.  In Marosnagylak, in the early morning, they would pick up all the trash and throw it by the third neighbors, so all the fleas should go there.

In some areas, on Kázmér’s day (March 4th), beekeepers let the bees out, and women ran around the house three times and hit the wall to chase the rats away.

March 7th is Tamás’ Day.  It is said March is better than the three “ember” months (September, November and December), because winter isn’t coming, it’s already gone.

Whatever the weather is on St. Francisca’s day (the 9th), the rest of March will be the same.

On March 10th the womenfolk have to finish spinning and weaving; it’s time to do some outside work.

Many traditions are tied to Szent Gergely’s - St. Gregory’s – day (March 12th).  This is the day when the legumes (beans, peas) should be planted. In Szamoshát, that’s the day the bees are let out.  But beekeepers must not look to the sky, or the bees will fly high!  Snow is not unusual on that day, then it is said Gergely is shaking his beard.

Soon comes “Sándor, József, Benedek (on March 18th, 19th and 21st) –  zsákban hozzák a meleget” – bringing warmth in a sack.  If the three days are sunny, it will be a long hot summer. If no sun, it will be a long and rainy autumn.

On the 18th, oats and barley should be sown.  That is the day when the shepherds let the sheep out to pasture.

If the weather is bad on St. Joseph’s Day (the 19th), it will be bad for another 40 days, and many people will die during the year.

In Szamoshát people say that, after St. Joseph’s day, you cannot drive the grass back into the earth with a hammer.  Swallows and storks will return.  If the stork’s feathers are dirty, it will be a good harvest; if clean, just the opposite. 

St. Benedict’s day (the 21st) is the official beginning of spring; the length of day and night are the same (in 2020, the equinox is on March 19th).  If one plants garlic on the 21st, the cloves of garlic will be fat.  On that day, grease and garlic are blessed.  Garlic was believed to have healing powers.  Those who suffered from typhoid had their head and belly rubbed with some garlic concoction.

March 24th is St. Gabriel’s day.  That is the day cabbage and the cabbage family of vegetables should be sown. Beware if you are a farmer: make sure you don’t meet a rooster on your way to sowing, or rape (the seeds of which yield an oil and whose leaves are used for fodder) will grow instead of cabbage. 

Fruit trees should be grafted on the feast of the Annunciation (or Lady’s Day, March 25th).  But do not break the tree that was grafted on that day or blood will flow from the branch, and if you cut it, you might go blind.  If the frogs croak on Lady’s Day, it will be cold for the next 40 days.  Another belief is that if Easter falls on March 25th, some disaster will follow soon thereafter.

Finally, according to the csízió book (calendar of superstitions), do not let your arm bleed in March (because in olden days, cutting your arm to make it bleed was considered a cure for almost anything.)  Eat sweet food and drink sweet stuff.  Eat mustard and horseradish with vinegar.  If you hear thunder in March, the weather will be windy.  There will be as many showers during the year as there is fog during the month.

A child born in March will be quick, God-fearing, honest, smart and friendly.

Sorry, I missed it by half a year! 

Karolina Tima Szabo is a retired Systems Analyst of the Connecticut Post newspaper and Webmaster of Magyar News Online.  She is the proud grandmother of two.


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