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1st of March in Bulgaria is called Baba Marta Day. On that day and through March/until a stork or a bloomed tree is seen/, we wear wrist bands or ornaments- called Martenitsa, woven with red and white color threads, symbolizing the arrival of Spring and well being. There are several legends about this day, involving real historical figures, about the colors of Martenitsa. I will share with you the one that I favor the most.

Years and years ago, in the 7th century, Khan Asparukh- the first Bulgarian king, had left his home to find a new land, a better land, where his people can settle down. After an adventurous journey he had finally stopped south of the Danube River /nowadays the territory of Bulgaria/. But no place could be home without family and loved ones and Asparukh had sent a message to his sister and mother, writing about how lonely and sad the new land had been without them.

In return, Asparukh’s sister had sent back a message that they will join him soon, to give him strength and kindness. She had attached a white flower, tied with a white thread, to a swallow bird, together with her message and had sent the bird to greet her brother. From the long flight and the heavy flower, by the time the swallow had reached Asparukh, the wings had bled on the white thread and when Asparukh had received the news from his sister, he saw the white and red thread as a blessing and he had tied it on his hand to remind him of the good coming.

Ever since, on the 1st of March, Bulgarian people wear Martenitsa, to honor the symbols of good health and good future, shared with family and loved ones.

I tried to find who the author of the poem posted here is, but no luck with that. In the translation few of the words were changed to make the reading in English better, but the meaning is the same.

Martenitsa I send faraway
a fiber from the life at home,
white as the blossoms of a Spring tree
and red as the colors of the blood.

Let it glow over you, and
let it bring you back home every night,
to find a power in your wings
while you follow the winds and the dreams.

Let it give you strength in life,
because it’s always worth the journey.
And wherever you are, near of far,
may you always carry the beauty of the traditions.

Martenitsa

©2013, B. T., All rights reserved

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