“CHESTITA BABA MARTA!” HAPPY GRANDMA MARCH!
There is a celebration of spring and positivity for our new year, that is special because it is entirely Bulgarian. It isn’t an event celebrated all over the place like many, perhaps because they are religious-based rather than culture-based. However Bulgarians invite others to join them for MARTENITSA from March 1 to March 31! It is about wearing and displaying red & white symbols: for happiness, health, luck, fertility of yourselves, your homes, and your land each year. We know about it because my very sweet friend, Nina, has shared her tradition with us from home!
We have exchanged red & white tokens, called “martenitsa” in singular, like the holiday. We began yesterday to display and wear what she selected for us. It was fun to shop for a custom we’d never heard of, to send as a gift and participate in an exchange that is completely new to us! She mailed Ron & I extras to give away and we did; so the tradition and quest for positivity in 2015 spreads to others. I think of it as St. Valentine’s Day; the way children exchange inexpensive tokens with everyone they know at school and with their families. However my friend taught us two stories, each describing how this legend started.
Martenitsi, plural, must be available abundantly in Bulgaria. I can tell you, the creativity it took was stimulating: to think of suitable tokens from home and Canadian stores, for an occasion that doesn’t occur here! I hope Nina is pleased with my solutions and if they didn’t arrive before March 1, that my mail is close to it. We could start wearing, or try on other martenitsi any day in March, correct? There are many. We’re presuming we put one on after we’re bathed and dressed. Unnecessary to sleep with them and everything, right? She’ll let us know. Now my readers may begin too.
Wear red & white trinkets, originally woven threads, until March 31…. or until you see a sign of spring. This aspect reminds me of “Diwali”, the most sacred day for Hindus, Sikhs, Jain. It’s a fast in October. You may eat again after you have spotted the moon. I’m glad for the month end alternative. Signs of spring could be awhile in central Canada! Thankfully they may include a returned bird, perennials budding; as well as a stork. (That especially won’t be appearing here)! Ron thinks he saw pussywillows beginning to form. However there was no way I was closing this nice new custom the first day we wear our Martenitsi threads! We’ll watch for more signals!
Nina gave us wool-made traditional dolls too, which are prominently standing in our living room. I love celebrating eclectic aspects of life with other people; learning who they are and the way they live. It’s been a long time since I discovered an occasion that was new. How about all of you? It isn’t often, is it? Thank you for teaching me about your country, my friend and inviting us to your holiday. “CHESTITA BABA MARTA, TO YOUR FAMILY, NINA AND EVERYONE!”
~Yours Truly, Carolyn & Ron~