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 blossoming tree. Then you take the martenitsa off and tie it to a branch.
I haven’t bought a martenitsa in years – that’s because I make them myself. This is a very important day, a real holiday for me. So I found this post by Vihra (www.razvihreno.com) deeply moving… and the idea of salt dough martenitsas is great indeed:
I walk along the street and I cannot believe my eyes. I didn’t know there was so many red and white yarn in the world. As if an entire Chinese city has spent a month making the decorations for 1st of March in Sofia… This time, however, I will not buy my charms from the street. I will make them all – for my son, for my parents, for my close acquaintances, for myself and even for my front door. I like thinking about those people as I work, remembering some things about them, the good times and the sad times, and why they are so dear to me. Once people did not buy their martenitsas. The oldest woman in the house got up early before dawn, made the red-and-white charm and hung it on the front door just as the sun was began to rise. Then she tied red yarn on children’s wrists and she hung a red apron or a bunch of red yarn so it could be seen from a distance. And the magic worked… read full article