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Monday, March 01, 2010

Chestita Baba Marta Everybody

I think we don't celebrate anywhere near as many traditions and occasions in this country as we could.  Every morning I get an email from Garrison Keillor's delightful Writer's Almanac.  There's always a poem, and then information about the date, usually literary birthdays or events, always interesting and informative, often (it's Garrison Keillor, after all) quirky.  This morning's quirky little bit of information was about some of the holidays that are celebrated around the world on March 1st. Most of these holidays have to do with the hoped-for coming of spring.

My favorite of these is this one from Bulgaria:
In Bulgaria, today is Baba Marta, or "Grandmother March Day." Baba Marta is a mythical figure, a temperamental old lady with big mood swings that correlate with the Bulgarian climate. When she's happy, she brings warm weather. When she's angry, the winter frost persists. So today, people in Bulgaria go around greeting each other "Chestita Baba Marta" — which means "Happy Grandmother March" — hoping that the old lady will be cheerful and bring warm weather and sunshine. And today in Bulgaria, people wear martenitsi. The martenitsa is a red and white brooch-like adornment made of yarn. It is supposed to make Baba Marta have mercy on the wearers and allow them be happy, so that they may all welcome the coming spring as soon as possible.
I thought this was intriguing, so looked it up on the ever-informative Internet, and found this great site with lots more about Grandmother March and the martenitsi: history, traditions, and best of all - folk tales about the day.This is a day for cheerful optimism and hope, for getting rid of the winter doldrums,  pleasing Grandmother March so that the birds will return, the fruit trees will blossom into life, the beasts bear their young. It's too late for this March 1st. not a scrap of yarn in the house - but by next March I'm going to have a little stash of martenitsi ready for greeting Baba Marta.


Lisa :-] said...

Sort of like our groundhog day...only we don't go around wearing things to cajole the groundhog into not seeing his shadow. :)

Chestita Baba Marta, Mary Ellen!

fdtate said...

Chestita Baba Marta, Mari! I like these 'hoping for spring' holidays!