Here in Bulgaria on every 1st of March we celebrate Baba Marta Day (Grandma March Day). Baba Marta day is related to welcoming the upcoming spring. The month of March, according to Bulgarian folklore, marks the beginning of springtime, therefore, the first day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off winter and welcoming spring.
On the first day of March and for a few days afterwards, we exchange and wear white and red tassels or small dolls called “Пижо и Пенда” (Pizho and Penda – these are my favourite ones, they are soo sweet!). We call them martenitsa – it is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March (or the first time we see a stork, swallow, or budding tree). We receive them as presents from relatives, close friends and colleagues. Martenitsa is usually worn pinned on the clothes, near the collar, or tied around the wrist. Usually have one Pizho and Penda on my cloths and a lot others on my wrist. When we were kinds, we were competeing with each other who will get more, so I had more than 50 on my wrists!
There are various theories and even several legends, involving real historical figures about the symbolism of these two particular colors – red & white, from which Martenitsa are made. An obvious and belef is that “red” stands for “life/birth” and “white” denotes “anew/on clear grounds”. Combined together, they mean “a new beginning”; a celebration of Life and Survival. Another popular explanation is that white stands for wisdom and red for good health, which means that anyone giving you a Martenitsa is wishing you both throughout the new year.
So, if you find youtself in Bulgaria in the beginnig of March, don’t be shoked to see that everyone is wearinf funny white and red tassels on their clothes. No, we don’t have bad taste in fashion, we just like our traditions!