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Happy Baba Marta from Balkan Holidays!

Baba Marta (Баба Марта in Bulgarian) is known as 'Grandma March Day' and is a holiday celebrated in Bulgaria on the 1st day of March. Bulgarians wear an item called a Martenitsa, usually in the form of a wrist band which is woven by binding red and white coloured threads together. The Martenitsa are not only worn on the day to celebrate the holiday but also through the month of March until a stork or a bloomed tree is seen which symbolizes warmer weather and good health. The greeting exchanged by Bulgarian's on this day is Chestita Baba Marta (Честита Баба Марта – Happy Baba Marta)

There are many different beliefs and opinions (even several legends, involving real historical figures) about the symbolism of the two chosen colours of red and white, from which Martenitsa are made. The understandable explanation and perhaps a common belief people share, is that "red" stands for "life/birth" and "white" denotes "anew/on clear grounds". Combined together, they mean "newborn", "rebirth", "a new beginning"; a celebration of Life and Survival. Another popular reason is that white stands for wisdom and red for good health, which means that anyone giving you a Martenitsa is wishing you both throughout the new year.

In March, these Martenitsa, worn on the wrists or on the clothing, can be seen almost everywhere in Bulgaria. Being a purely pagan ritual by origin, Baba Marta Day is one of the oldest, still existing traditions in Christian Europe.

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