Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baba Marta- 1st March


1st March, the Spring Holiday
George Georgiev


"If one morning you get out on the street and everyone is smiling, wearing red – white tassels, it means that today is 1st March or First Spring day, and you can think of at least 20 people, that you have to gift with a martenichka. To find martenicha is not a hard thing, because the pavement along the streets is scattered with stands, piled with countless colorful amulets for health and happiness. It is hard to make a decision, which exactly matrenitchka is suitable, as all of the models are beautiful and cheerful.

Finally you have bought two dozens of martenicki, your mood is even more elevated and continue along your way. You see a beautiful girl right in front of you with a red coat, hugging young boy with white jacket, they kiss each other and quickly giving each other small martenichki, than you look at the red – white crewels, and associate it with the couple in love, dressed in red and white, and you start asking yourself for the origin of this custom, what is its meaning, and how many legends were told about it? Why 1st March, why red and white?

The truth is that the roots of this holiday are a lot deeper, than you can imagine and is connected with many other symbols, legends and myths, than the general beliefs for health and luck. Most of them date back to pagan times. The red colour is a symbol of the feminine beginning, health, conception and birth, and the white on the other hand is the male beginning, strength and light. This invariable combination between the man and woman, which actually rules the world, the Bulgarian folklore notifies the beginning of the spring season, the new beginning, source of the good. That is why white and red is being weaved in the martenitsa, the way the man and woman are entwined, to create something new and good.

Most of the legends for the origin of the matrenitsa are related to the foundation of
Bulgaria and the pre- Bulgarians. One of them says that after a vicious battle, when the khan himself found hi death, the Bulgarians managed to win and sent a pigeon to their relatives with white cotton weaved on it – as a sign of victory. Hostile arrow, however hit the pigeon and his blood coloured the cotton, until he reached the village. The priest interpreted this, as a sign of victory, gained with a lot of blood.
The other legend tells that after the victory of khan Asparuh over the Byzantines, he had to thank god Tangra. According to the tradition the sacrifice pyre had to be lightened by a spray of fennel, which did not grow up along our lands. The khan was desperate and at that moment a small swallow, sent by his sister. It carried a spray of the herb, tied by red and white cotton for health and luck. Probably, that is why today the greeting cards for 1st March have a swallow drawn.

The fairy image, which the nation has attached to the whole month – March, is also very interesting. This is actually Grandma Marta, an elderly lady with extremely changeable character. She has a power over the weather and according to her mood it is sunny, bad, with snow storms and snow. It is hard to please the capricious lady, but ever since immemorial times it is known that she loves to see young and beautiful peope and gets mad if you see a man with no martenitsa. That is why 1st March, forces the old people to stay at home and everyone has to carry red and white threads, which have to be removed once you see a stork or the first green three.
And while you walk in this crazy morning, probably a bird has told you about the 1st March, the ancient Bulgarians, the changeable grandma Marta, the national heroes – the white Pizho and the red Penda and surely will tell you numerous interesting legends and myths, but you are not listening any more, because you have met the person to gift with your first martenichka. And who knows, may be this meeting is the beginning of something new and good


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