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Martenitsa – an ancient Bulgarian tradition

The Symbolism of Bulgarian Martenitsa

  • March 01, 2018 10:00
  • Author Olya Georgieva
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Source: TheMayor

On the 1st of March Bulgarian people celebrate a traditional holiday called Baba Marta (or Grandma Marta in English) and it is related to welcoming the approaching spring. The symbol of this custom is the Martenitsa. The traditional Martenitsa consists of two little dolls – Pizho, the male, is red and Penda, the female, is white. The other version is a bracelet, made of one red and one white thread. The symbolism of the colors is important. The white is a sign of strength, purity and happiness. The red is associated with health, blood, victory, and fertility.  People should wear their Martenitsa from 1st of March until the appearance of the first blooming tree or the first stork.

One of the legends about the origin of the Martenitsa comes from the fact that Bulgarians relied a lot on agriculture in the past. In Bulgarian folklore Baba Marta is a grumpy old woman who changes her mood very rapidly and it reflects in the changeable March weather. When she is happy the weather is sunny and warm. However, in case she gets angry, it turns cold and it snows. Those weather conditions were extremely dangerous for the crops so by wearing the Martenitsa our predecessors asked Baba Marta for mercy in the hope that she would bring spring faster.

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