Brings Good Health, Purity and Passion
“The Best Kids Toy and Present of the Year”, next to Christmas
Martenitsa (marteniza, martenica, Bulgarian: мартеница, pronounced [ˈmartɛnit͡sa]) is a “Secret” unique amulet of Bulgaria for bringing good health, purity and passion. Martenica is “the Best Kids Toy and Present of the Year”, next to Christmas. Bulgarian kudos accept Baba Marta as well as they accepted Santa Clause two months before, but they receive Martenitsi (pl.) instead of presents, or mostly make at least one themselves.
An ancient custom is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March (or the first time an individual sees a stork, swallow, or budding tree). Most of the time, the tassels are decorated with blue beads, small golden coins or colorful threads.
Wearing one or more Martenitsi is the World unique and a very popular Bulgarian tradition.
“Baba” (баба) is the Bulgarian word for “grandmother” and Mart (март) is the Bulgarian word for the month of March. Baba Marta is a Bulgarian tradition related to welcoming the upcoming spring. When she is smiling the sun is shining; when she is mad, cold weather is firming the ground. The majority of the rituals aim to make her happy and merciful.
Martenitsa is usually worn pinned on the clothes, near the collar, or tied around the wrist or neck.
The most popular Martenitsa consists of two small wool dolls, Pizho and Penda (Пижо и Пенда). Pizho, the male doll, is usually predominantly white; Penda, the female doll, is distinguished by her skirt and is usually predominantly red. They are associated with the male and female beginnings, and in their balance, with the need for balance in life, two natural resources are the source of life.
The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring and of new life. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, and so some ethnologists have proposed that, in its very origins, the custom might have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and the sorrow and happiness in human life. The Martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature, the white symbolizing the purity of the melting white snow and the red setting of the sun, which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses.
This is an old tradition that remains almost unchanged today and the common belief is that by wearing the red and white colors of the martenitsa people ask Baba Marta for mercy. The tradition is related to the ancient pagan history of the Balkan Peninsula (s. 1808) and to all agricultural cults of nature.
The authentic story relates the 1st Martenitsi to the 7th-century Battle of Ongal (680) between the Bulgarian Khan Asparuh and the Byzantines, which resulted in a decisive Bulgarian victory. After the battle, the Bulgarian Khan sent eagles with white threads to announce the victory to his main camp. The threads turned bloody during the flight, thus creating the first Martenitsa. A peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire was signed in 681, marking the foundation of the First Bulgarian Empire on the territory both N and S of the lower course of the Danube River in 681 as an alliance between the ruling Bulgars and the numerous slavs in the area, becoming the oldest still existing Slavic state.
Martenitsi are always given as gifts. Tradition dictates that people never buy Martenitsi for themselves. Best is when you make for others, and especially when kids make some for their family and friends.
Angelina Vesselinov presents MARTENITSA @ RD WHITE Elementary Schoolin Glendale, CAlifornia, U.S. – video
The tradition calls for wearing the martenitsa until the person sees a stork or a blooming tree, and then removes the Martenitsa and hangs it on a blossoming tree.
The stork is considered a harbinger of spring and as evidence that Baba Marta is in a good mood and is about to retire.
Everyone says “Tchestita Baba Marta” (Happy Grandma Marta)!
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