Bulgarian Martenitsa

Bulgarian Martenitsa

In Bulgaria, there is a centuries-old tradition of celebrating Baba Martha Day every March 1st. Red color symbolizes health, white symbolizes longevity...

In Bulgaria, there is a centuries-old tradition of celebrating Baba Martha Day every March 1st. Red color symbolizes health, white symbolizes longevity. And in ancient times, these threads were purely woolen and close people, in order for the amulet to work, were probably made by martenitsa by hand. It was believed that if a mother makes martenitsa for her children and husband and ties them herself, then they gain greater strength, better protect against the evil eye, and protect.
The martenitsa is worn on the body, clothes, and as soon as you see a stork - it is considered good sign, the martenitsa is tied to a flowering tree and all wishes and desires will come true! Nowadays storks are found only in rural areas, so just seeing a swallow is enough.

Quite often, threads are used to weave bracelets for wrists, but another common form of martenitsa is Pizho and Penda; the Pizho doll, which bears a male name, is distinguished by a dominant white color, while the Penda girl is usually red.

There are many legends that tell how this holiday appeared, but they all talk about the same flowers and decorations used on this day.
In ancient folklore, Baba Marta was portrayed as a fickle and capricious woman with a changeable mood. When she was happy, the sun shone brightly in the blue sky, but as soon as she got angry, winter dragged on for a longer time. Some say that Baba Marta only comes to clean houses, so the Bulgarians had their own way of spring cleaning dedicated to this holiday. Towards the end of February, people were cleaning their houses, which also symbolized the cleansing of old things from the previous year, so that spring could bring "new" things into the house.

Another story tells about the same family, but different events. It is centered around Khan Asparukh, the founder of the First Bulgarian Kingdom and Bayan's brother. According to this version, Asparukh, the leader of 50 thousand Bulgarians, reached the lands on the other side of the Danube and decided to settle on them. He was going to offer the pagan god Tangra a gift to appease him and receive his blessing to found a new kingdom. In early times, according to Bulgarian traditions, it was necessary to throw a sprig of dill into the sacrificial fire, but there was not a single bush of this plant around. Soon a falcon landed on Asparukh’s shoulder, to whose paw the necessary bunch of dill was tied with a white thread. He was sent by his sister Asparukha Huba, who saw a dream about his problem. But during the flight, the bird rubbed its wing, and therefore part of the thread became saturated with blood. Asparukh pinned a thread on his clothes in memory of his sister and this event.

And another legend about Pizho and Penda.
Pizho and Penda, white and red in the form of two men.

There is a legend associated with this. That there lived a family that had no children. It was a great grief for the woman. And then one day, an old woman passed by their house. The woman warmed the old woman, gave her shelter, and said that if she did everything as she said, the couple would have twins - a boy and a girl. It was necessary to put the old woman's bag under the bed and on the full moon, after intercourse, conception would occur. The woman didn’t believe it, but she did everything.
The old woman said that after 16 years she would return and take the girl for herself. The woman did not believe these words, and did not believe that the old woman could live another 16 years at all. The family had a beautiful red-cheeked baby - Peugeot and a white girl - Penda. The family lived happily for 16 years, and on their sixteenth birthday, everyone was waiting for the holiday and Penda put a necklace of blue beads around her neck. But the old woman returned.
The mother, in horror, began to protect her children and the old woman turned her into a beautiful large cherry tree. At that moment, Penda fell lifeless to the ground. Peugeot began to beg the old woman, at the cost of her life, to return her sister’s life. He took her body, kissed it, hugged her and leaned it against the trunk of a cherry tree. The evil old woman just laughed and said. That in fact you
loved your sister very much and I will make sure that you will be together forever and subsequent generations will bow to the power of brotherly-sisterly love.
In the evening, my father returned home, having opened the gate, he saw a huge cherry blossom tree and on one branch bent towards it hung dolls intertwined with white and red threads, and on one thread there was a blue bead, and near the chimney on the roof of the house the stork was sitting. This is such a sad story.

Bulgarians believe that if they wear martenitsa in March, they will be healthy all year round.

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