Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How many martenitsi are too many martenitsi?

Last Thursday, March 1st, marked a very important and unique Bulgarian holiday. Baba Marta (Grandma March), so called for the children's book character, is celebrated a month because Bulgarians look forward to the coming of spring and shaking off the winter cold. On this day people buy or make martenitsi, either bracelets or pins to be stuck to clothing, which they exchange with friends and loved ones. While each martenitsa can have many variations, the most important thing is that they are made from red and white thread. These small tokens are meant to bring the wearer good luck and health in the coming year, and it's a very sweet tradition that most people observe earnestly.

I posted some photos and wrote about martenitsi in last year's post but I didn't actually experience the holiday fully because I was on my way to England visiting relatives last March. So this year I was really looking forward to seeing how the tradition plays out at school. And I wasn't disappointed. At the First English High School here in Sofia, I was bombarded by students wanting to tie martenitsi on my wrist at the beginning of every class. After four lessons I had collected nearly 50 of them! Kiril joked that I probably hold the Guinness world record for collecting martenitsi, hahaha. I hope that means that I'll have lots of extra good luck this year.

Over the weekend we went to visit friends in Lovech, which is close to Pleven (where I lived last year). It was so nice to get away for a few days. Lovech is really quiet and peaceful compared to Sofia, with almost no traffic (people or cars) at all. Saturday was Bulgaria's independence day, and we took a walk up to the Vasil Levski monument, which was fitting because Levski was one of Bulgaria's most well-loved revolutionary heroes. The time really flew by quickly, probably because I was in such good company. I also got to catch up with my friend Dessy in Pleven, just for a couple of hours before we caught our train. I came back to Sofia feeling refreshed (although not exactly well-rested) and glad to be home. The snow is finally melting here and it looks like spring is finally on its way!  

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