March in Crete begins with perhaps the “airiest” holiday of Koulouma. After bright, noisy, plentiful treats at carnival celebrations, it is time to breathe, calm down and look at the sky in the literal sense of the word: the main ritual of the Koulouma (a picnic) is the launch of kites. Fly away, light-winged, multi-colored ones and carry up all sorrows, and difficulties!
The island is already shrouded in pink clouds of flowering almonds, is decorated with many delicate anemones and blue-eyed rosemary here, and there: the spring has come!
Ahead is the Great Fast, but this is not a reason to forget about colors of life. «Καλή Σαρακοστή!» (“A good Lent!”)—the Cretans wish each other. They put on also Martis bracelets woven from red and white threads. This is another ancient tradition, like the celebration of the Koulouma. The Greek believe that a simple amulet will protect them from the “cunning” spring sun and any evil eye. Therefore, a bead is woven into this bracelet—known as mati eye—or a figure of a swallow.
What does the bird have to do with it? It is supposed to wear the Martis bracelet the whole of March and on the last day of the month to leave it on a flowering tree or rose bush so that returning from winter flights swallows make nests there.
A beautiful tradition, isn’t it?