Traditions are everywhere in life. But do you know there is even a tradition in bracelets? And very old traditions too! 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.
Tradition in bracelets in Greece
As I write in my last blog, the bracelet is very popular in Greece, with men. It is a part of their army costume and made of gold or bronze. How that turns out into a tradition is not known. Probably it starts at the parties of the half goddesses of Eleusine. Here the life of goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone is celebrated. And where the participants wear a red thread on their right wrist and their left ankle. After years and years, a tradition ‘Martis’ starts. 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 protect the children from sunburn. You keep the bracelets on the wrists until the last day in March. On that day you put the bracelets in the trees for the birds to use as nest material.
Tradition in bracelets in Bulgaria
You find about the same tradition in Bulgaria, like ‘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. You make the bracelet of yarn and wear it 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 is inscribed on the Unesco list of ‘the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
1. traditional bracelet Greece 2. traditional bracelet Bulgaria
The tradition in bracelets in the Victorian Era in Europe
In the Victorian Era, according to tradition, the groom gives a set of bracelets to his future wife. The girl wears one of the bracelets at the start of the engagement. And she puts the second one on the wedding day. It becomes customary that the wives pass the bracelet set on to their daughters.
In Europe, we have an unofficial tradition that little children get a birth bracelet as a present from the family. The bracelet is a chain bracelet with a small plate with a nice text on it.
The traditional 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 a lot of crystal bracelets. With perfume and oils, the girlfriends of the bride try to get as many bracelets as 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. When he dies the widow breaks her crystal bracelets as a token of mourning.
Although a tradition starts a long time ago, there are some habits, related to the bracelet, that start not so long ago. But definitely becomes a tradition when we wait a little bit longer. And I like to mention two of them.
Indian wedding bangles
The modern bracelets
This ‘tradition’ gets popular in the United States in the eighties of the last century among teenagers. They are first seen in the demonstrations to protest against the disappearance of Mayan Indians and Guatamaltec peasants. The religious groups take 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 using the macrame technique. The bracelet has two or three threads or someone uses a more difficult pattern. The origin of the colors and the threads are 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 friend who wears the bracelet until it drops off the wrist and then the wish comes true.
1. Friendship bracelets 2. Lance Armstrong Livestrong band
The second type of bracelet that becomes very popular is the ‘purpose’ bracelet. Under the influence of the ‘green’ movement, these bracelets are made of natural materials, like rubber. You buy them for a good cause and everybody is wearing the same color rubber bracelet or band. Just to show the world you are dedicated to that cause. The first (I know) that starts wearing this type of bracelet is Lance Armstrong. He promotes 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 prove 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.
Look back at traditions
When we look back at the traditions of the bracelet, the bracelet is most of the time a gift from your friend, your mother, your groom, or your husband to be. And the tradition orders that you wear the bracelets forever or for a very long period. What happens when you do not like the bracelet or the bracelet is a statement. And when your already a bit too large hips look even bigger, is not known. But I imagine that there were a lot of women who have problems with those presents, not well chosen.
But this does not have to happen to you. There is a little booklet with 14 tips on what bracelets look best on you, what bracelet makes you sparkle, and what bracelet 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.