Monday, 28 February 2011

February Draws To A Close

After yesterday's bright blue skies and sunshine we had hoped that winter might be on the wane. Even the snow had started to thaw in the garden. Unfortunately the overnight temperatures, or lack of them, have turned all of that thaw to ice. Even now, at 2 in the afternoon, it is still hovering round about the zero mark. Last night when I looked at the forecast today was meant to be sunny, not this overcast murk that we actually have. We have also found that the waste pipe from our wet room has partially frozen, but a kettle of boiling water and some salt seems to have cleared it. Hopefully I will be able to avoid the use of my drain rods, those that knew me in the UK will remember the problems that I have had with drains and rods, just no-one mention Saudi Arabian boxer shorts please.

Tomorrow brings us March, and a traditional Bulgarian holiday, Baba Marta. I always look forward to this time of year, as it makes me remember that Spring is just around the corner, and that hopefully snow will soon be a thing of the past. On the 1st March Bulgarians exchange Martenitsi, and wish each other Chestita Baba Marta! The custom is to essentially wish each other good health, luck and happiness. In Bulgarian folklore Baba Marta is a grumpy old woman who changes her mood rapidly, rather like the weather. When she is smiling the sun shines and the weather is warm, but when angry the cold stays longer and it may even snow. The Martenitsa is made of twined red and white threads, white as a symbol of strength, purity and happiness, and red symbolises health, blood, conception and fertility. When given a Martenitsa you should wear it pinned to your clothes, tied around your wrist (or neck) until you see the first Stork, although some regions say the first fruit tree blossoms. After that you can tie it to a blossoming fruit tree for fertility. Like an amulet, the Martenitsa is said to ward off ill fortune, diseases and the 'evil eye', and that wearing one will bring health, happiness and longevity.

One of the most typical Martenitsi is the one with the two small woollen dolls. Pizho is mainly white, and is the male doll, and Penda in red, with a skirt, is the female. There are many other variations and forms. Out of twined red and white threads are also made bracelets, necklaces, tassels, pompoms, balls, squares, human or animal figures. Over the past several decades the tradition has been innovated by attaching all kinds of representations and symbols made of wood, leather, ceramics, metal foil to the thread-made Martenitsi.

The custom of wearing Martenitsa is probably one of the most interesting Bulgarian (pagan) traditions and it is considered to be unique to Bulgaria. According to one of the many legends, this tradition is also related to the founding of the Bulgarian state in 681 AD. 

So ready for tomorrow Net and I would like to wish you all 'Chestita Baba Marta'.

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