Celebrating March in Bulgaria. A pagan tradition allowed by the church!

Hi travelers!

If your next stop these days is Bulgaria it’s great because you’ll witness something very interesting. It’s about the celebration of forthcoming spring which name is “Baba Marta” (Granny Marta where Marta comes from March).  The beginning is on 1 March when nowadays people just buy small red and white figures or bracelets made of threads called Martenitsa and give them to their relatives, wishing them health.martenitsa guide

But in old times things were a bit different and this tradition was not that simple. It was a complex of rituals that every family should follow for the healthy being of himself, his family, livestock etc. By that time rituals started from the previous day (the last day of February), when the house and yard should be perfectly cleaned and the rubbish was burnt in the evening. The funniest part is that according to a book about these rituals, the person who lights the fire should be a child or old woman who hadn’t recently been to a toilet! Also in the evening before 1 March people put a red piece of red cloth on the fence of their house or on a fruit tree somewhere in their yard. They did this to propitiate Granny Marta because according to Bulgarian beliefs this mythological entity could be good or bad, depending to people’s actions. For people in the past this moody behavior explained weather changes in March here.

Scientists believe that these rituals are legacy from ancient times – from the pagan rituals of Thracians. They compare Granny Marta with the ancient Great Mother Goddess and say that there are a lot of similar things between them. For example even the red figure from the present Martenitsa is called Penda which is so close to the name of Thracian Mother Goddess – Bendida. So at all Martenitsa is pagan symbol but through the years Christian church has resigned with this fact that it won’t be strange if you see here a priest who wears it!maartenitsa guide

Just until the first half of 20 century Martenitsa was made by almost every Bulgarian family. In small towns the oldest woman in the family made by wool threats these accessories for every member of their family. It’s her job because she already gave birth to few lives and has needed experience. People believed that creating of Martenitsa is almost equal as importance with giving a birth! The main part of the process is twisting of two wool threads – one naturally white and one red-colored. While she is twisting she said loudly her best wishes for the person that Martenitsa is for. This is cause she believed that she’ll lock down these wishes between the threads by twisting. The wool itself shouldn’t be cut from the sheep, but should be picked from the thorns and bushes of some field.

Nowadays industry, free market and present lifestyle changed dramatically this tradition. Most of today’s Bulgarians buy the Martenitsas  for their relatives from sellers most of whom orders them in China where they are made of all kinds of materials but not a wool. Of course there are sellers who produce the things they sell but again a lot of them don’t use wool. Most popular types of Martenitsa are white and red human-shaped figures connected by a twisted red and white thread. Other popular type (that youngsters prefer) are bracelets made again by twisted red and white threads. Of course the market here is full of all types of Martenitsa and everybody can choose between thousands of different varieties.

So if you come here these days and want to know more about that tradition or how to make your own wool Martenitsa, contact me and I’lll tell and show you (last few years I produce my own homemade Martenitsas for my relatives) what you want. We can also arrange a sightseeing tour in Sofia combined with shopping for Martenitsa all around here. For more info about my trips look  other pages of my website.  http://cyclingguidebulgaria.com/bulgaria/

Vienna passions in Sofia

Hey there! If visiting Sofia these days is in your to do list I want to share with you something that deserves your attention. It’s ‘’Vienna days” that happens here from 8th till 14th February. The main attraction of this event is a retro tram with two wagons that you can use to see Sofia for free. It’s authentic old machine that in the beginning of 20 century crossed the streets of the former kingdom of Bulgaria.

It’s not just the fact that it’s for free. When step in the wooden wagon you’ll be meet and greet by a smiley young girls who will give you a original Austrian waffle and your free ticket. By the time of your ride you’ll listen to an interesting facts about Sofia and Vienna and their relation (unfortunately just in Bulgarian) and also great Viennese waltzes. The journey lasts 2 hours and goes all around the city center so it definitely worth it!

Other part of this celebration is a five meters high transparent heart full with waffles which will be positioned in ‘’Mall  Serdica”. On 11 February will happen the annual Viennese ball, and 13th  and 14th will be conference days in the art halls of Square 500.

Actually Bulgarian-Austrian relations dates back to the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century. By that time our country was newly liberated from Ottoman rule and Vienna had a big cultural influence here. Maybe you’ll notice this when you see most of the oldest buildings in the city center. That’s because they were built mainly from Austrian architects or Bulgarians who had their study in Austro-Hungary.

If you need a guide during your staying here or just somebody to hang with have a look at my website and contact me! I’m still a beginner in tourism and my English is not that perfect so just for now my price for this is – AS YOU CONSIDER!