Today the streets of Bulgaria are strewn with red and white. Makeshift tables and pegboard displays are piled high with martenitsi of all shapes and sizes. Simple red and white yarn figures, wrist bands of red and white rope with solitary bead ornaments, elaborate wreaths and folk symbols with red and white woven into their designs — all part of Baba Marta, the holiday appointed to herald the coming of spring.
[What is a martenitsa? Learn more here]
There are many reasons to rejoice on Baba Marta. Let’s briefly review my favorite three:
Selecting a few choice martenitsi and handing them out to friends is a simple way of telling others you care about them.
Over the years I’ve received – and enjoyed – some rather elaborate productions, but the martenitsi I’ve cherished most are a handful of simple, homemade miniatures that I know where chosen just for me. They come from the most unexpected people, and for that carry even more special meaning.
Share Wishes for Good Health
Baba Marta opens the door to greet everyone we meet — friends, colleagues, neighbors, even strangers — with genuine wishes for good health in the coming year. It turns our focus to the good around us. It encourages one to overlook small irritations. It joins us together in human fellowship.
Set a Watch for Springtime
It isn’t every year that we enter March proclaiming, “Spring is in the air!” Sometimes it still feels like the depths of winter. Yet somehow, each year the wind and gales of fickle March give way in fits and starts until and a morning comes when we realize the time has come, and spring is here.
Spring conjures thoughts of song birds singing, gardens and grass under foot, warmth and sunshine overhead. It’s worth looking out for. Wearing a martenitsa helps keep us focused on the bright things just ahead, even as we slog through the last weeks of winter.
Chestita Baba Marta!
Chestita Baba Marta! Let these joyous words burst forth and carry us into warmer days. Happy Spring.