March the 1st Celebrations Stara Zagora
The 1st of March sees Baba Marta Day here in Bulgaria. March 1st is probably our most intrinsic holiday because it is unique to Bulgaria. The custom of wearing martenitsas (red-and-white threads worn as a decoration) is only popular in Bulgaria and it is perhaps the most positive one in all our folklore. The traditions related to March 1st as well as the martenitsas themselves are associated with optimism and anticipation of warmer weather, fertility and well-being. This tradition is based upon the founding of Bulgaria in 681 AD. The name March comes from the Latin Martius, i.e. ‘of Mars’, the god of war, son of Jupiter and Junona. Old Bulgarians called it “birch month” – because the birch trees begin to grow leaves and give sap. Other traditions connected with March include that very early in the morning, even before the month begins, the young ones must be the first to meet the willful old woman. Thus she will be smiling and merry, the weather will be good and sunny. People wear the martenitsas until they see a stork. Then they tie it on a fruit-tree branch, make a wish and are sure that it will come true.