All over the world, people meet spring with joy and new hope but it is only in Bulgaria where it is saved as an ancient custom. The name of this festive day is Baba Marta and means “Grandma March” in Bulgarian. If you are walking along the streets in Bulgaria on the 1st of March you will witness many smiling faces. But first of all your eyes will be captured by Martenitsa.
Everyone has decorated their clothes with them. If you wonder what this decoration looks like: a Martenitsa (мартеница) is a small piece of adornment, made from wool, silk and cotton yarn. Their colors are white and red and usually represent two dolls, a male and a female (called Pizho and Penda). Also, the tassels are decorated with blue beads, small golden coins or colorful threads. It is a part of Bulgarian tradition related to welcoming the spring.
In ancient times "Matenitsa" was accepted as a ritual sign - an amulet for protection from evil spirits. Tassels are decorated with blue beads, small golden coins or colorful threads. All Bulgarians believe that if they wear Martenitsa in March, they will be healthy during the whole year. They must wear it until they see a stork, swallow, or blossoming tree (or until late March). Where you can wear it? On the wrists, on your neck as a necklace or on your left side of your dress. In some Bulgarian regions, there are special amulets according to people's social status. Young unmarried girls wear their Martenitsa on the left side of their dress whereas young unmarried lads wear them on their left-hand small finger, married men put Martenitsa in their right sock.
Baba Marta represents the spring and the sun. She I s an old lady with unstable temperament: when she smiles – the sun is shining; when she get mad – the cold weather is covering the ground. So all of this rituals are trying to make her happy. Symbolically the spring cleans from all bad and old things from the past year so people also clean their houses thoroughly at the begging of the year. On the 1st of March everybody offers Martenitsa and wear it until the end of this period – when you see a blossomed tree or a stork. Then you can remove it and tied it to a fruit tree. This is a very old and beautiful tradition which aims to welcome all the positives changes in our life. Bulgarians believed in the magic power of the red color. The red keeps us from the devil and charms. Nowadays most enthused when practicing this traditional holiday are kids. There are many songs to Baba Marta also, that is kept from the ancient times.