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In springtime in Bulgaria, blossoming cherry trees are covered in red-and-white martenitsi.

 

 Today, the Bulgarians in Boston also celebrate Baba Marta! March 1st is the day that marks the beginning of spring!      

The legend says that Baba Marta, or Grandmother March is a good old lady with a changing temper. When she is happy, she sweeps away the winter, cold old Dyado Mraz (Grandfather Frost), and makes way for the sun and the beautiful young Spring. But when Baba Marta is angry, she brings cold March winds.      

On this holiday, we give each other martenitsi , small adornments made from white and red wool, which symbolize good health and vitality during the new year.  We tie martenitsi on the children’s wrists, wear them as brooches, decorate the house with them, and tie them on domestic animals and fruit-trees . We keep our martenitsi on until we see a stork or a budding tree. When we do see these heralds of spring, we tie our martenitsa on the tree-branch, put it under a stone, or set it flowing in a river.      

A martenitsa can have many designs, but the most popular is Pizho and Penda, who are a white wool boy and a red wool girl.

 

I was so disappointed that I had forgotten to bring martenitsi from home (again)! But thanks to my good friend Vladi, I have a martenitsa now! Thank you Vladi! Keep the Bulgarian traditions in Boston going!      

Chestita Baba Marta! 

*** 

Read my post on Trifon Zarezan, the unique Bulgarian holiday of vine-growers and wine-makers, which we celebrate together with St. Valentine’s Day.

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