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CHESTITA BABA MARTA!

On the days leading up to the 1st March, the streets of Bulgaria are filled with people buying, selling and giving martenitsi: red and white dolls, tassels and friendship bracelets.  The day harks back to pagan times to symbolise the coming of spring and the end of winter.  Baba Marta, or Grandmother March, is a renowned to have severe mood swings which relate with the changeable weather in March.  When she is happy, the sun will shine and spring is imminent; however, if she is grumpy, the weather will transform to wind and possibly snow.  Wearing a martenitsa is thought to keep her happy, ward off evil spirits, to bring you luck and is now big business in Bulgaria.

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The symbolism of the twined red and white has variations but it is commonly agreed that red is for health, blood and conception (female); and white for strength, purity and happiness (male).  People make and give bracelets and dolls (Pigo and Penga) to friends and family to wear until they see their first stork, swallow or budding tree of the year.  When this happens, the matenitsa is tied to the tree you wish to have a good harvest from for the coming year and that spring has officially arrived.

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Честита баба мартa!

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