Celebration Day of the 40 Martyrs or Măcinici

The Day of the Martyrs or Măcinici marks the transition from the cold days of Baba Dochia to the warmer days of the Grandfathers. This day is celebrated on March 9 and is based on two legends, the story of Baba Dochia and the death of the 40 martyrs burned at the stake for the true faith.

The story begins with Agricola, a harsh military leader who decided to punish the 40 soldiers who did not want to renounce their faith.

The greatest among them, Chirion, answered on their behalf and said: “As we fought and conquered the enemies, for the earthly King, so we will fight for the heavenly King, against His enemies.

The punishment consisted in forcing the soldiers to enter Lake Sevastia, which at that time of the year was almost frozen. One of them was lured by the warm water in the adjacent lake and died from the rapid transition from freezing to warm. At the same time, one of the jailers was impressed by their gesture and joined them.

But miracles happened that night: the water of the lake warmed up, and 40 shining crowns descended on them from the sky. Because the next day they were taken out of the lake alive, the jailers crushed the whistles of their legs and they were burned at the stake.

The legend of Baba Dochia is a folk tale.

Baba Dochia had a son named Dragobete who married against her wishes. To annoy his daughter-in-law, one cold winter’s day he gave her a ball of black wool and sent her to the river to wash it, telling her not to return until the wool turned white. The girl tried to wash the wool, but even though her fingers began to bleed, the color of the wool remained black. In despair, because she could not return home to her beloved husband, she began to cry. Impressed by the girl’s pain, Mr. Mărțișor appeared in her path and gave her a red flower, telling her to wash the wool with it. Thanking him, the girl put the flower in the water, washed the wool and found with amazement that the wool turned white. Happy that she managed to complete this difficult task, the girl returns home. Hearing the girl’s story, Baba Dochia gets angry, thinking it is spring, because Martisor could have given the girl a flower. She sets off dressed in nine skins in search of spring. During the journey, the strong sun makes her take off one by one, the nine shells she was wearing, until she is left with none. The weather suddenly changes and Baba Dochia freezes and turns into stone.

The tradition consists of martyrs made by women on the 9th of March in the shape of 8, which are taken to church and blessed. In Romania, depending on the area, the martyrs are made in various ways: in Moldova they are made from cake dough, in Muntenia they are made in juice, from simpler dough, like bread, to symbolize the lake into which the martyrs were thrown .

It is said that whatever is sown on this day will bear 40 times more, and whoever does not take it into account will suffer for 40 days.

Martyrs’ Day is also a sign to foretell the weather. It is said that if it is a rainy day, Easter will be the same, if it thunders, the weather will be favorable to all crops, and if it freezes the night before, it will be a long autumn.

Ordinary people calculate their “Baba” by adding the numbers of the day of birth, until a number between 1 and 9 is reached. Then the weather is monitored between March 1 and 9 on the day when everyone celebrates their “baba” and sees how they will be the year: if it’s warm and sunny, that person will have a good year. If it is cloudy, he will have a sad year, and if it rains, he will have a rich year.