Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Bulgarians celebrate fickle March

EVERY year on March 1, Bulgarians present relatives, colleagues and friends with martenitsa - a double red and white tassel. This ancient tradition is as old as Bulgaria itself, dating from 681 AD.

MARTENITSAS fight the cold.
photo: File photo

EVERY year on March 1, Bulgarians present relatives, colleagues and friends with martenitsa - a double red and white tassel. This ancient tradition is as old as Bulgaria itself, dating from 681 AD.

Bulgarians put the martenitsas on their clothes or wrists and wish each other health and happiness by saying "Chestita baba Marta" or "Happy Grandma Marta." The name, Marta, comes from the Bulgarian word for March. According to tradition, Marta is an angry old lady whose mood changes quickly from bad to good and back again.

The early Bulgarians fought often, and it seemed wars started at the beginning of March. The men went off to battle, leaving their families at home. The women were understandably unhappy about this and worried about their husbands' safety. They gave their men small red and white tokens, either red and white cloth strips or small woollen figures - a white girl and a red boy (Pijo and Penda). Red represented the warriors' blood while the white was the colour of their wives' pale faces, waiting for their husbands to return home.

The tokens were meant to remind the men of their families as well as please Baba Marta so she would not change her mood so frequently, which often meant dangerously cold weather for the men.

The tradition continues today, although now Bulgarians give martenitsas only in the hope that Baba Marta will not make us cold. If a Bulgarian friend gives you a martenitsa, you must wear it until you see the first stork returning from winter migration. Then you throw the martenitsa onto a tree. In Bulgaria, everyone wears a martenitsa, especially babies, young children, newlyweds and newborn domestic animals. Some fruit trees, door handles and vineyard are adorned with martenitsas, too.

From March 1, the Bulgarian Cultural Institute is exhibiting martenitsas made by the children of the Bulgarian School in Bratislava. Find the Bulgarian Cultural Institute (Bulharské kultúrne stredisko) at Jesenského 7 (near Eurobooks). Ring the bell for admission.

Top stories

Crematorium in Bratislava is an architectural revelation Photo

Those who have experienced farewells in other crematoria know what makes it special. Now the best work by the architect Ferdinand Milučký is getting a monograph

Crematorium in Bratislava by architect Ferdinand Milučký

What kind of expectations do some Slovaks have for world leaders?

Among EU member states, opinions of the United States declined in all but two — Poland (which makes some sense) and Slovakia (which does not).

Donald Trump

Crates and boxes. Slovaks discover new ways of grocery shopping

Farmer’s boxes are gaining customers in Slovakia as people slowly become more conscious about quality and the origin of the food they eat.

Foreigners: Top 10 events in Bratislava Video

Tips for the top 10 events in the capital between January 19 and January 28, plus regular services in different languages, training, temporary exhibitions and highlights of the year.

Scandi 4