Many of you who were in Bansko the last week of February probably noticed all of the stands with people selling bracelets and human figures made of red and white interwoven strings. This is to celebrate the very old tradition in Bulgaria called Baba Marta (literally translated this means Grandma March). The holiday itself is on the 1st of March and symbolizes the coming of spring and warmer weather.
The tradition is to give these woven bracelets (called martenitsi) to friends and family on the 1st of March and they are to be worn until you see a stork or a fruit tree blossoming. Sadly, this year it seems spring has come early (thank you global warming….not!), but as the folklore tale goes, Baba Marta will make sure there is snow again.
In one of the folklore tales, Baba Marta is a sister of the great long-horned beetle (January) and the small long-horned beetle (February). They are always drunk and being rowdy, so the old lady gets angry with them and this causes the weather to be bad. Not that I would consider snowing bad, but this tale is from before skis were invented and people didn’t have many pass-time activities in the snow. One day an old shepherd decides to take her flock out on the last days of March, thinking that Baba Marta would give her good weather, because they were both the same old age. This made her angry, as Baba Marta didn’t consider herself old, so she dished out the last snowfall of the season killing the poor shepherd.
We here at Traventuria wish you all a happy Baba Marta and the beginning of Spring that it symbolizes. Or as we say in Bulgarian – Честита Баба Марта!