March 1st is the official start of springtime in Bulgaria. It is when Baba Marta (Grandmother Martha) visits the land and everybody hopes that winter has been banished.
To appease her, people wear red and white threads (or intertwined pieces of yarn) for good luck and health in the coming year. Here is an explanation of the custom and a bit of the story behind it:
These charms or amulets can be worn in a number of forms: as bracelets, necklaces, or pinned onto the clothing and they are worn for good luck and prosperity during the coming year.
I was so captivated by this Bulgarian folk craft that I bought two skeins of yarn, one red and one white, and decided to create my own Martenitsa.
I was a little rushed when I made them. The bracelets didn't look too bad, but the tassle one needed some work.
Since I live in a multi-cultural household and am a citizen of the world, their place of honor was in front of the Puerto Rico mirror, next to my daughter Marty's Chinese good luck charm (notice the similarity)? that I picked up in Chinatown a few years ago. The Martenitsa on the right is traditional, with Pijo and Penda.
I have one on my key ring and so far I haven't lost my keys and have only been in one car accident, which was a fender bender. Baba Marta must like me!
Here's a video from the Universe of YouTube, showing the different types of martenitsi, how they're made, and how they're worn accompanied by music from the group Leb i Vino (Bread and Wine).