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Today is the BABA MARTA DAY

Today is the BABA MARTA DAY

3/1/2018 8:00:00 AM

If you by any chance visit Bulgaria on the first day of March you are certain to notice almost every person decorated with small tokens made from red and white woollen threads. Then from late March to mid-April, you will notice many fruit trees and shrubs decorated with these same tokens.

March 1st is known as the "Baba Marta" Day in Bulgaria – so, on the very March 1st, as well as the days following, all people give each other red-and-white tokens in the form of strips, ornaments or a pair of small woollen dolls, traditionally called “Pizho” (the male character) and “Penda” (the female one), also known by the name Martenitsas.

According to tradition, Marta (the female of the word “Mart”, the BG version of March) is an angry old lady who rapidly changes her mood from worst to best and back again. She is popular all around Bulgaria as "Grandmother Martha" (or "Baba Marta" in Bulgarian ). According to the typically Bulgarian belief, spring comes with the arrival of “Baba Marta”. Her dual image of both merry and mischievous, of simultaneously approving and denying character, represents the woman as the beginning of life as well as the elemental devastating beginning at large.

March is traditionally believed to be the only “female” month of the year - the month of conception of spring, the month of land giving birth to summer and fruitfulness. The red-and-white woolen token called “Martenitsa” [mar-te-‘ni-tsa], after the name of the month “Mart” is the very sign of the coming March - the symbol of the wakening of the earth for a new life as well as the cult to the Sun.

The white color of the Martenitsa initially symbolized the human nature, the strength and the light solar zone. Later influenced by Christian mythology, it became the symbol of virginity and virtuousness – the white color is the color of Christ. The red color in the Martenitsa was chosen to represent health and the woman’s nature - it is a sign of blood, conception and birth. The women’s wedding dresses and traditional costumes used to be red once upon a time.

Traditionally, the Martenitsa has always been a unique amulet that was believed to provide protection from the powers of evil. The wearing of a Martenitsa used to be a kind of a magical ritual act: the twisted white and red woolen threads protected the person from the mechanisms of black magic.

March 1st is the name day of everyone named Martha, Martin, Martina.

more on the feast, the customs and the Martenitsas - here

 

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