Traditions are everywhere in life. But did you know there are even traditions in bracelets? And very old traditions too! And there is a new tradition coming up: it’s bracelet month now at FlorenceJewelshop! But serious: a bracelet, a piece of (beautiful) jewelry, is the object or subject of many wonderful and interesting traditions and celebrations. Curious…? Well, let me tell you about them.
Traditional bracelets in Greece
As I wrote in my last blog, the bracelet was very popular in Greece, with men. It was a part of their army costume and made of gold or bronze. How that turned out into a tradition is not known. Probably it started at the parties of the half goddesses of Eleusini where the life of goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone were celebrated and where the participants wore a red thread on their right wrist and their left ankle. After years and years a tradition called ‘Martis’ started. On the last day of February mothers in Greece make red and white bracelets for their children. On the first of March the spring season starts there and the sun starts shining bright. The bracelets should protect the children from a sun burn. The bracelets were kept on the wrists until the last day in March. On that day the bracelets were put in the trees for the birds to use as nest material.
A bracelet tradition in Bulgaria
About the same tradition can be found in Bulgaria, where it is called ‘Martenitsi’. The bracelet has the same colors as in Greece (red and white), but the end of the bracelet has the shape of a doll: a male and a female one. The bracelet is made of yarn and it is worn from the first of March until the day the wearer sees a stork, as a blossoming tree or a swallow, the symbols of spring. This tradition has been inscribed on the Unesco list of ‘the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
The traditional bracelet gift in the Victorian Era in Europe
In the Victorian Era, the tradition was that the groom gave a set of bracelets to his future wife. The girl had to wear one of the bracelets at the start of the engagement and the second one had to be put on on the wedding day. It became customary that the wifes passed the bracelet set on to their daughters.
In Europe, we have an unofficial tradition that little children get a birth bracelet as a present by the family. The bracelet is a chain bracelet with a small plate with a nice text on it.
The tradition in bracelets in India
In India, the tradition of the bracelet has everything to do with marriage. The bracelets have different colors to symbolize energy (red), wisdom (blue) or purple (independence). On their wedding day, the bride wears crystal bracelets. With perfume and oils, the girlfriends of the bride try to get as many bracelets possible on the arm of the bride and the smaller the better (that brings luck). It is a very bad omen when a bracelet breaks before the husband dies en when he died the widow breaks her crystal bracelets as a token of mourning.
Although a tradition should be born a long time ago, there are some habits, related tot he bracelet, that started not so long ago, but definitely become a tradition when we wait a little bit longer. And I would like to mention two of them.
The modern traditional bracelets
This ‘tradition’ got popular in the United States in the eighties of the last century and is popular among the teenagers. They were first seen in the demonstrations to protest against the disappearance of Mayan Indians and Guatamaltec peasants. The religious groups took the friendship bracelet to the United States to use in political demonstrations.
The friendship bracelet is a bracelet given to a friend as a symbol of friendship. Most of the time the friend makes this bracelet him or herself of thread or yarn and the macrame technique is used her. The bracelet can have two or three threads or someone uses a more difficult pattern. The origin of the colors and the threads can be found in South America, but the decorative knots go their way back to China around 300BC.
There is a special ritual around the friendship bracelets. You make one for your best friend and when you give it to him or her, you wrap it around your friend’s wrist and you wish that person something nice. The bracelet should be worn until it drops of the wrist and then the wish should come true.
The second type of bracelet that became very popular is the ‘purpose’ bracelets. Under the influence of the ‘green’ movement, these bracelets are made of natural materials, like rubber. They are mostly sold for a good cause and everybody is wearing the same color rubber bracelet or band, to show the world you are dedicated to that cause. The first (I know) that started wearing this type of bracelet was Lance Armstrong, who promoted the sale of these bands to finance the research for finding medicine against cancer.
You don’t only see these rubber bands as a symbol that you support a good cause. Also when you attend a pop concert or stay at an all-inclusive hotel or resort you will get a rubber or strong paper band to proof that you paid. This is not really meant as a piece of jewelry, but some of the bands are so beautiful, that people wear them longer than the stay in the hotel or after the concert.
When we look back at the traditions of the bracelet, the bracelet was most of the time a gift from your friend, your mother, your groom or your husband to be. And the tradition ordered that you wore the bracelets forever or for a very long period. What happened when you did not like the bracelet or the bracelet was such a statement that your already a bit too large hips looked even bigger, is not known. But I can imagine that there were a lot of women who had problems with those presents, not well chosen.
But this does not have to happen to you. I wrote a little booklet with 14 tips what bracelets look best on you, what bracelet makes you sparkle and what bracelet can camouflage some minor points of your posture. The booklet is free, the tips are great. So why don’t let me know where I can send this booklet to. A great gift for you and for the ones who want to buy a bracelet (or two) for their loved ones. Just click on this link or on the booklet to get to your free download