One of the most ancient traditions in Bulgaria is called “Baba Marta” (literally – “Grandma March”) and is celebrated on March 1. On this day, people exchange martenitsi and say “Chestita Baba Marta!” (Happy Grandma March) to one another. The martenitsi are said to bring health and good luck and are usually worn on the wrist or pinned to the coat. They are made out of red and white yarn or thread. Variations in size, shape and models are countless although the classic martenitsa consists of two components: a white yarn male doll (Pizho) and a red yarn female doll (Penda).
In Bulgarian folklore, Baba Marta is a grumpy old lady whose constantly shifting mood causes the typical abrupt weather changes in March. When she is happy the weather is sunny and warm. However, in case she gets angry, it turns cold and could even snow. By wearing the martenitsa our predecessors asked Baba Marta for mercy in the hope that she would bring Spring faster.
Everyone is supposed to wear their martenitsi until they see a stork or a blooming tree.
Why, you may ask. Well, because these two events signify the coming of the spring. After that you are supposed to tie your martenitsi on a tree.
If you join us for one of our two tours on March 1 you will get the chance to receive a typical red and white bracelet and hear the story of the holiday underneath a tree covered with martnitsi in the centre of Sofia! 🙂