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Dear friends,

we from Roerich School greet you with the traditional Bulgarian holiday Baba Marta and wish you health, prosperity and happiness

The legend of martenitsa

Martenitsa is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March (or the first time an individual sees a stork, swallow, or budding tree). The name of the holiday isBaba Marta. "Baba" () is the Bulgarian word for "grandmother" andMart() is the Bulgarian word for the month of March. Baba Marta[1]is aBulgariantradition related to welcoming the upcoming spring. The month of March, according to Bulgarianfolklore, marks the beginning of springtime. Therefore, the first day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off winter and welcoming spring.




The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring in Bulgaria and life in general. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, thus some ethnologists have proposed that, in its very origins, the custom might have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and of the sorrow and happiness in human life.

On the first day of March and for a few days afterwards, Bulgarians exchange and wear white and red tassels or small dolls called " " (Pizho and Penda). In Bulgarian folklore the name Baba Marta (in Bulgarian meaningGrandma March) is related to a grumpy old lady whose mood swings very rapidly.

This is an old pagan tradition that remains almost unchanged today. The common belief is that by wearing the red and white colours of the martenitsa people ask Baba Marta for mercy. They hope that it will make winter pass faster and bring spring. Martenitsa is usually worn pinned on the clothes, near the collar, or tied around the wrist. The tradition calls for wearing the martenitsa until the person sees astorkor a blooming tree. The stork is considered a harbinger of spring and as evidence that Baba Marta is in a good mood and is about to retire.

The martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature. During early-spring/late-winter, nature seems full of hopes and expectations. The white symbolizes the purity of the melting white snow and the red symbolizes the setting of the sun which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses. These two natural resources are the source of life. They are also associated with the male and female beginnings.

Wearing one or more martenitsi is a very popular Bulgarian tradition. The martenitsa symbolises new life, conception, fertility, and spring. The time during which it is worn is meant to be a joyful holiday commemorating health and long life. The colours of the martenitsa are interpreted as symbols of purity and life, as well as the need for harmony in Nature and in people's lives.

A 20th century Bulgarian story relates the first martenizi to the 7th centuryBattle of Ongalbetween theBulgarKhan Asparuhand theByzantines, which resulted in a decisive Bulgars victory. After the victory, the Bulgar Khan sent eagles with white threads to announce the victory to his main camp. The threads turned bloody during the flight, thus creating the first martenitza.