Teachers' blog


【Martenitsa Day】


(Contributed by Karl)

A Martenitsa (Bulgaria) is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and usually in the form of two dolls, a male and a female. Martenitsi are worn from Baba Marta Day (March 1) until the wearer first sees a stork, swallow, or blossoming tree (or until late March). The name of the holiday means “Grandma March” in Bulgarian and the holiday and the wearing of Martenitsi are a Bulgarian tradition related to welcoming the spring, which according to Bulgarian folklore begins in March.


The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. It is 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 (the study of different societies and cultures) 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.


Tradition dictates that Martenitsi are always given as gifts, not bought for oneself. They are given to loved ones, friends, and those people to whom one feels close. Beginning on the first of March, one or more are worn pinned to clothing, or around the wrist or neck, until the wearer sees a stork or swallow returning from migration, or a blossoming tree, and then removes the Martenitsa.



Wearing one or more Martenitsi is a very popular Bulgarian tradition. The time during which they are worn is meant to be a joyful holiday commemorating health and long life.


Modern Martenitsi takes a wider variety of forms and often incorporate colored beads.


Today I was giving three to wear so need to look out for a stork, a blossoming tree, or a swallow


I love the different cultures.




Accessed on 8th March 2017

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