Show and Tell #6

I love this thing called show and tell. It’s a fun way to see how unique we are so head over to Mel’s to see what she is showing. My Bulgarian friend and workout partner gave this to me on March 1st. When I see the 1st blooming tree she wants me to tie my Martenitsa on it and wish for a baby.  So that is what I am going to do. The original tradition was to tie it around a stork but I don’t envision finding a stork in Tennessee or catching one to tie a ribbon around its neck. So we will opt for the blooming tree. Thanks to Wikipedia you too can learn about the Martenitsa tradition.

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.

A martenitsa tied to a blossoming tree, a symbol of approaching spring

Another tied martenitsa

The ritual of finally taking off the martenitsa may be different in the different parts of Bulgaria. Some people would tie their martenitsa on a branch of a fruit tree, thus giving the tree health and luck, which the person wearing the martenitsa has enjoyed himself while wearing it. Others would put the martenitsa under a stone with the idea that the kind of the creature (usually an insect) closest to the token the next day will determine the person’s health for the rest of the year. If the creature is a larva or a worm, the coming year will be healthy, and full of success. The same luck is associated with an ant, the difference being that the person will have to work hard to reach success. If the creature near the token is a spider, then the person is in trouble and may not enjoy luck, health, or personal success.

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. They are also associated with the male and female beginnings.

Wearing one or more martenitsi is a very popular Bulgarian tradition. The martenitsa symbolises new life, conception, fertility, and spring. The time during which it is worn is meant to be a joyful holiday commemorating health and long life. The colours of the martenitsa are interpreted as symbols of purity and life, as well as the need for harmony in Nature and in people’s lives.


10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    a said,

    I love to hear the traditions of other cultures! This seems like lots of fun – good luck finding your blooming tree (or a stork).

  2. 2

    Jess said,

    What a beautiful gift! I love the traditions celebrated by other cultures in honor of fertility. I hope it finds you luck…

  3. 3

    Sunny said,

    What a great friend, and an amazing gift. I hope it works for you!

  4. 4

    Soosee said,

    I love learning abt fertility and other traditions. What an awesome friend to give you this and think of you! 🙂

  5. 5

    Kristin said,

    What a thoughtful gift and a very cool tradition.

  6. 6

    Annie said,

    Thanks for sharing an interesting tradition. Hope your wish comes true!

  7. 7

    tasivfer said,

    What a beautiful gift! Good thing you’re in the northern hemisphere rather than in the south like me where spring’s half a year away!

  8. 8

    Suzy said,

    That is very cool! I’m also in TN. Hopefully the Bradford Pears will be blooming soon!

  9. 10

    jill said,

    Very interesting! I hope it brings you luck! 🙂

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