Hello lovely people!
Welcome to post number 3! 🙂
See, I haven’t given up yet. It’s just a wee bitty too much fun. (see I speak Scottish)
Yesterday I mentioned Lady March in my post and today I’ll tell you a bit more about her and the legends around this lovely pagan Bulgarian tradition. (I’m about a day late btw)
I’ll start with the legend about the red and white intertwined bracelets and then explain how we celebrate in Bulgaria.
The legend about the Martenitsas (that’s the name of the bracelets) dates back to 681 A.D. (see Bulgaria has been around for quite a while) when the Bulgarian tribes reached the Danube river and established their country there. Khan Asparuh, the leader, was on the right side of the river with his followers, whereas his brother and sister were stranded on the left side of the river with no way to get through. Asparuh had sent them an eagle to lead their way, but when they finally got to the river, they couldn’t find a passage. Then, Bayan and Huba came up with a brilliant idea. They tied a white string to the eagle’s leg in the hope of finding a passage. Sadly, the tribes that had imprisoned them in the first place and from which Bayan and Huba managed to escape, caught up to them and found them. Bayan got struck by an arrow, and some of his blood splashed on the white string. When Asparuh received the news, about his brother and sister waiting for him on the other side of the river, he gathered his soldiers and went across to save them. He tore the red-white string and gave each one of his soldiers a piece, meanwhile chanting: “The string that connects us, shall never be broken. May we be healthy, happy, cheery. May we be Bulgarians!”
So, that’s the legend (one of 3 versions). Let me know what you think. I’m curious to find out. 🙂
I mentioned Lady March (Baba Marta in Bulgarian) earlier. The legend about her is a bit darker than the previous one. According to the legend, she’s a lovely but fiery lady, who lives on top of the highest mountain, from where she can see and hear everything that happens in the mortal world. One day she heard a young woman stating that Lady March can’t do anything to hurt her because they’re both women. (a somewhat feminism-ish thingy, IDK) That statement, however, annoyed Lady March, she was actually furious. All of a sudden, while the girl was walking in the woods, the sun disappeared from the sky, and a snowy storm started. The girl was never seen again. *ta-ta-taaaaaah*
Nowadays, we still have the saying: “Don’t make Baba Marta (Lady March) angry.” (It’s like “don’t poke the bear” basically) Because depending on her mood, the weather is said to change. (Quite cool if you think about it).
So, in order to keep the two traditions alive, which with time have kinda mixed up, on the 1st March we gift each other a bracelet called Martenitsa. It symbolizes good wishes for health, wealth, happiness, and luck. Once you have your bracelet on, you’re only allowed to take it off when you see a stork, a sparrow, or a blooming tree. (I’m not sure how likely it is to see a stork or a sparrow in Scotland, but one can only hope 😀) Once you take the martenitsa off, you must put it on a tree. 🙂
Martenitsas are relatively easy to make and are a lot of fun to do so. I’ll put some pictures up to see what they look like. Let me know if you’d like to learn how to make them 🙂
Fun fact: When I was in high school, we used to measure our popularity by the amount of Martenitsas that we had. (*facepalm*)
I’m sorry for the long post, thought you might like a bit of legend…
wait for it
…dary information about pagan traditions in Bulgaria.
Hope you enjoyed the read! 🙂