Chestita Baba Marta

baba-marta-41March 1st is a significant day in the Bulgarian calendar. Each year Bulgarians present to relatives and friends martenitsa – a double red and white tassel signifying health and happiness.

On the first day of March, people in Bulgaria put the martenitsa on their clothes or wrists and wish each other health and happiness with “Chestita baba Marta” – (“Happy Grandma Marta”). “Marta” comes from the word for March (Mart) in Bulgarian.

Martenitsa are supposed to be worn until the person sees the first stork returning from the South. Then martenitsa are then tied onto a tree branch. The red and white colors symbolize the snow and the blood from an old story where, a stork brings the blessing for health to a small child from its parents, who are far away. The act of giving the martenitsa is an expectation of the near spring season. The “arrival” of the stork indicates that this has happened.