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Bulgarian Martenitsa

March 1. is a day of the rich Bulgarian tradition, and wishes for health, love and a good harvest.This is the time when Bulgarians exchange amulets - the so called bulgarian "Martenitsa" and tell each other, "Chestita Baba Marta" (Happy Granny March). The red and white woven threads are not just meaningless decoration, but symbolise the wish for a good harvest and good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring in Bulgaria and life in general, and everybody calls them "martenitsa". (Martenitsa - the singular, martenitsi - the plural). This period of wearing marteniza lasts till the arrival of spring.

Martenitsa are given to loved ones, friends, and those people whom one feels close to. They are worn on 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 and hangs it on a blossoming tree.

The tradition goes by the name Baba Marta - Granny March. This is a literal translation; the term does not necessarily refer to an old woman, but rather to the wisest member of a family, despite the gender. The 1st-of-March ritual is connected to the tradition of wearing Martenitsa used as protection from the evil eye. Martenica can be worn along with items such as garlic, blue wool, or a coin. The coin is a wish for wealth, and the blue wool is additional protection from the evil eye. Garlic symbolizes the strengthening of the sick and protecting the healthy ones. You may see Marteniza in Bulgariain the form of a boy and a girl. By tradition, they are called Pizho and Penda. These doll-like Martenitsa represent purity and genuineness and a wish for health.

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