On the first day ofMarch and for a fewdays afterwards,theBulgarians exchangeand wear white and redtassels or small dollscalled "Пижо и Пенда"(Pizho and Penda). InBulgarian folklore thename Baba Marta (inBulgarian баба Мартаmeaning GrandmaMarch) is related to agrumpy old lady whosemood swings changevery rapidly.
The tradition calls forwearing themartenitsa until theperson sees a stork ora blooming tree. Thestork is considered aharbinger of springand as evidence thatBaba Marta is in agood mood and isabout to retire.
TraditionThis is an old pagan tradition that remainsalmost unchanged today. The commonbelief is that by wearing the red and whitecolours of the martenitsa people ask BabaMarta for mercy. They hope that it willmake winter pass faster and bring spring.Many people wear more than onemartenitsa. They receive them as presentsfrom relatives, close friends andcolleagues. Martenitsa is usually wornpinned on the clothes, near the collar, ortied around the wrist.
Wearing one or more martenitsi is a very popularBulgarian tradition. The martenitsa symbolisesnew life, conception, fertility, and spring. Thetime during which it is worn is meant to be ajoyful holiday commemorating health and longlife. The colours of the martenitsa are interpretedas symbols of purity and life, as well as the needfor harmony in Nature and in peoples lives.
The martenitsa is also astylized symbol ofMother Nature. Duringearly-spring/late-winter,nature seems full ofhopes and expectations.The white symbolizesthe purity of the meltingwhite snow and the redsymbolizes the setting ofthe sun which becomesmore and more intenseas spring progresses.These two naturalresources are the sourceof life. They are alsoassociated with the maleand female beginnings.
UseMartenitsi are always given as gifts. People never buymartenitsi for themselves. They are given to loved ones,friends, and those people to whom one feels close. Theyare worn on clothing, or around the wrist or neck, until thewearer sees a stork or swallow returning from migration, ora blossoming tree, and then removes the Martenitsa andhangs it on a blossoming tree.