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The secret amulet of Bulgaria

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  • Obzor By BulgariCA
    *** Obzor - the 1st & the only Bulgarian Independent newspaper on the West Coast*** By BulgariCA Foundation - Your Bulgarian Partner in CAlifornia ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2007
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      *** Obzor - the 1st & the only Bulgarian
      Independent newspaper on the West Coast***
      By BulgariCA Foundation - Your Bulgarian Partner in CAlifornia

      Martenitsa ( marteniza, martenica)
      The secret amulet of Bulgaria ( Baba Marta )
      Evgeni Veelinov, Obzor By BulgariCA

      Martenitsa ( marteniza, martenica)
      The secret amulet of Bulgaria ( Baba Marta )

      All over the world peolpe meet spring with joy and new hope but it
      is only in Bulgaria where it is saved as an ancient custom.
      If you are walking along the streets in Bulgaria on the 1st of March
      you will witness many smiling faces. But first of all your eyes will
      be captured by martenitsas. Everyone has decorated their clothes
      with them. Moreover, you can see decorated dogs and cats. In the
      small villages in the mountains people decorate their domestic
      animals: lambs, kids, young horses. Houses have their own
      martenitsa, as well.
      Maybe you are wondering what this decoration looks like. The
      classical "martenitsa" is made out of red and white weaved threads.
      Sometimes it ends are made into tassels from the same yarn. Usually
      the tassels are decorated with blue beads, small golden coins or
      colorful threads.
      In ancient times "matenitsa" was accepted as a ritual sign - an
      amulet for protection from evil spirits. Nowadays, almost all these
      functions are forgotten and it symbolises the coming of the spring.
      But even now Bulgarians believe that they will be healthy during the
      whole year if they wear "martenitsa" in March. There is an ancient
      saying that "If you don't wear your martenitsa, Baba Marta will
      bring evil things to you".
      the mythical character of Baba Marta personifies the spring, the sun
      that can easily burn the fair skin of people's faces. According to
      the national belief Baba Marta is an old lady. She is an old lady
      and she is limp. That's why she carries an iron stick to learn on.
      The national beliefes define the temperament of Baba Marta as very
      unstable. When she was smiling the sun was shining; when she was mad
      st somebody cold weather was firming the ground. The majority of the
      rituals aim to make her happy and merciful.
      People believe also that Baba Marta would visit only a very clean
      and tidy house. That's why people clean their houses thoroughly at
      the end of February. Symbolically this is a spring cleaning from all
      bad, old and unfertile stuff from the past year.
      Baba Marta had specific requirements to the people she was going to
      meet the very first day in March. The old people didn't go out early
      in the morning because they could get her mad. She liked to meet
      young girls and women on the first of March which meant that the
      weather would be warm and nice.
      Baba Marta was very favorable towards the people that wear
      martenitsa. Usually they were made from wool, silk and cotton yarn
      by women. The basic colors used were red and white. The threads are
      woven together. Traditional martenitsa can include other elements
      such as silver coins, beads, garlic, snail's shells, horse's tail
      hairs, etc. Together they formed an amulet.
      On the first of March everybody should wear martenitsa, especially
      young children, just married couples or newly born domestic animals.
      Some of the fruit trees, the handles of the door, the vineyard also
      have their own martenitsa. There are special places where you can
      put martenitsa: on the wrists, on your neck as a necklace or on your
      left side of your dress. In some regions of Bulgaria there are
      special amulets according to people's social status. Young unmarried
      girls wear their martenitsa on the left side of their dress whereas
      young unmarried lads wear them on their left hand small finger,
      married men put martenitsa in their right sock.
      People wear martenitsa for a certain period of time. Usually the end
      of the period is connected with the first signs of the coming
      spring - blossomed trees, meeting of the first spring birds like
      storks, swallows or cranes. Then people remove their martenitsa and
      tie them to a blossomed fruit tree.
      In different regions of Bulgaria the process of taking off the
      martenitsa was connected with forecasting practices. In Southern
      Bulgaria people believed that martenitsa fastened to the wrists
      should be taken away when you see a flying stork. If the stork
      wasn't flying that was a symbol for a very lazy summer. People take
      off the martenitsa from their neck when they see a swallow which
      symbolizes the neck to be graceful and long as of the bird.
      Unmarried girls put their martenitsas under a big stone and then
      they would make a prognosis for their future wedding.
      When the martenitsa is taken off according to all rituals its
      special spiritual purposes are over. This marks an important
      transition - the end of the winter and a tansfer to positive
      changes. This widespread practice of wearing of Martenitsa and its
      exclusive stability in the Bulgarian folk culture is explained with
      the believed magical power of the red colour. Along with the garlic,
      the metal coin, the blue beads, and wolf's or snake's tooth, the red
      woolen thread is believed to have the magic power to chase away the
      evil spirit, the demons and the illneses.
      Bulgarians don't practise all these rituals nowadays. The necessity
      of most of these preventive measures has dropped off. The essencials
      of this rich ritual have been reshaped according to the modern
      holiday aspects. The kids are the most enthused when practicing this
      traditional holiday. They accept Baba Marta as well as they accepted
      Santa Clause two months before, but they receive Martenitsas instead
      of presents. There are many songs to Baba Marta also, those are kept
      from the ancient times and are still sung nowadays. All them are
      joyful and merry like Marta's character.
      The Martenitsa... this magical amulet inherited by our predecessors
      is the first sign of the coming spring. That's why each Bulgarian
      wears martenitsa on the first of March, symbolizing ones faith that
      hereon everything will be better. People will smile because they
      believe they have won the benevolence of Baba Marta.

      Happy First of March !
      Chestita Baba Marta !
      I wish you a lot of health, luck and love... and a lot of success to
      be able to buy the rest you could need ;-)))
      "Obzor" 1st Bulgarian & Independent Newspaper on the West Coast
      By BulgariCA Foundation, PO BOX 291661, LA, CA 90029
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