When your kid has come down with a runny nose and a cough and you have to stay home for a week, you may come up with all sorts of ideas. We made our baba Marta decorations (and I think we had it in us to decorate a few more houses). I had started making something else but it somehow turned into this little doll we called ‘baba Marta’.

We made the body from finer white yarn. This is the first time I did the hands like that (with an extra piece of yarn), but they turned out well. I’ve never liked the spread out hands and feet of traditional Pizho i Penda martenitsa dolls so I skipped cutting the ends. When the finer yarn body was ready, we wrapped it in much thicker yarn (you can buy it from any yarn store). The doll now resembled a real person. We used red yarn of the same thickness to make the hair (it’s baba Marta, after all). We made the clothes from a scrap of fabric.

I finished by sewing on eyes and a mouth.

What is ‘martenitsa’?

In Bulgarian folklore the month of March is often portrayed as a plump, cheerful old lady, “baba Marta”. The 1st day of her reign is celebrated with red and white ornaments in various designs – as bracelets, brooches, pom-poms… 
The origins of this ritual are lost in time, but the meaning is clear – they are luck charms you give away to wish good health (and good looks, too!) Friends, family, even pets and domestic animals get one.They are also a countdown to spring – you wear them every day until you see the first stork, or swallow, or blossoming tree. Then you take themartenitsa off and tie it to a branch.