The 1st of March is a holiday in Bulgaria, known as Baba Marta (Granny March) and is a centuries old tradition in Bulgaria that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Baba Marta is said to be a grumpy old woman, who you shouldn’t upset otherwise she could bring more snowstorms. The sun is said to come out when she smiles. She was smiling a lot on our trip!
It is also the day on which Bulgarians exchange martenista’s, red and white pieces of wool woven together that are either tied around the wrists or pinned to clothing and are said to bring health and happiness. Some people say the red colour represents life and the white to mean new, together they represent rebirth or Spring. They also come as knitted figures of an old couple, known as pizho (male) and penda (female).
Tradition has it that you wear them until you see the first stork or the first bud on a tree.
Once removed, you should tie the martenista’s to a fruit tree to ensure a bountiful harvest. Lorelle, Archies partner gave them to us on our first morning in Bulgaria and we proudly wore them for several weeks. Not having any chance of seeing a stork in the UK, we tied ours to our cherry tree, when we saw the first buds appear.