Photo: Martenitsa, by Katley Brown
Today's theme is Baba Marta, and her symbol, the Martenitsa.
Winter in the northeastern United States was especially long, cold and snowy and everyone is looking forward to spring! Unfortunately, we are in the middle of a deep freeze and think Baba Marta is unhappy with us because the cold and snow will last well into the first week of March.
The first song is by Jonathan Taylor, an Englishman who lives in Bulgaria. The video was taken after a particularly harsh winter. You can see the deep snow and the meltwater coming off the roofs of the houses. Taylor asks Baba Marta (Grandma March) to have mercy on the Bulgarians and drive away winter. You can find the lyrics here:
The next video features the Martenitsa Folk Dance Group from Stuttgart in Germany, and took place during a summer festival in 2008. They perform a medley of Bulgarian folk dances from different folklore regions of the country: Dobrudja, Pirin, Shoppe, and others. I have noticed that Bulgarian folklore is very popular in Germany. It must be all those trips the Germans make every summer to Black Sea resorts.
The martenitsa is a much-loved symbol in Bulgaria; it heralds the coming of spring. Traditionally, it's made from red and white yarn woven together to make a bracelet; tassels or male/female figures. They are given to friends and family for good luck, and to ward off winter. They are also associated with Baba Marta (Grandma March) who is very moody, she can either bring balmy springtime weather or freezing cold and snow. That is why it's important to make her happy by wearing martenitsa on a lapel or on the wrist.
The last video was produced by the Bulgarian National Television in Rousse, and shows the many different types of martenitsa. It's narrated in Bulgarian,with no subtitles. If you like folk art it's worth a look. These creations are quite original. There are tassels, little men and women, a broom and even spiders.
If you enjoyed this you may also like:
Crossing the River Part Three: The Bulgarian Martenitsa and the Romanian Mărţişor
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Martenitsa (but were afraid to ask)
The Martenitsa Tree (a modern-day folktale)
A Dance for Baba Marta: Children's Celebrations in Bulgaria
Project Martenitza, a group from Australia, has been organizing Bulgarian, Romanian and Moldovan communities around the world to decorate Martenitsa Trees. Read more about them here:
Check out my new blog Light and Shadow, and you will understand why I hate winter.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.