Monday, March 1, 2010
Today, March 1st, marks the day of my favorite Bulgarian holiday! It's certainly something else to be here and enjoy it in person, but the follow info taken in part from Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I know ;)) helps explain all.
On the first day of March and few days afterwards, Bulgarians exchange and wear white and red tassels or small dolls called "Пижо и Пенда" (Pizho and Penda). In Bulgarian folklore the name Baba Marta (in Bulgarian баба Марта meaning Grandma March) is related to a grumpy old lady whose mood swings change very rapidly.
This is an old pagan tradition and remains almost unchanged today. The common belief is that by wearing the red and white colours of the martenitsa people ask Baba Marta for mercy. They hope that it will make winter pass faster and bring spring. Many people wear more than one martenitsa. They receive them as presents from relatives, close friends and colleagues. Martenitsa is usually worn pinned on the clothes, near the collar, or tied around the wrist. The tradition calls for wearing the martenitsa until the person sees a stork or a blooming 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.
The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring in Bulgaria and life in general. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, thus 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 of the sorrow and happiness in human life.
The ritual of finally taking off the martenitsa may be different in the different parts of Bulgaria. Most people, at the siting of their first stork or budding tree, will tie their martenitsa on a nearby branch, thus giving the tree health and luck, which the person wearing the martenitsa has enjoyed himself while wearing it.
The martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature. At that early-spring/late-winter time of the year, Nature seems full of hopes and expectations. The white symbolizes the purity of the melting white snow and the red symbolizes the setting of the sun which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses. These two natural resources are the source of life.
at 10:12 AM