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Welcoming spring Bulgarian style

Lili Sannino’s primary class at DCSM experienced a little bit of Bulgarian tradition last month while donning their Martenitsa masks to welcome spring.

By Kathy Dunker; photo courtesy of DCSM

Bulgaria has an interesting tradition related to the first of March and is based on the founding of Bulgaria in 681AD. Students in DCS Montessori (DCSM) pre-school and kindergarten classes taught by Bulgarian Lili Sannino reenacted this tradition first hand.

According to Bulgarian folklore, the month of March marks the beginning of spring. Consequently, the first day of March is a traditional holiday of saying goodbye to winter and welcoming the spring.

A decoration with Martenitsa (Bulgarian for March) is the most typical and unique Bulgarian tradition. Martenitsa, symbolizing new life, health, and spring is made in the colors red and white. White symbolizes strength, purity and happiness, and the red stands for health, blood, and fertility.

Bulgarians say “Chestita Baba Marta,” which means Happy Grandma Marta. In Bulgarian folklore, Baba Marta – translation Grandma March – is a grumpy old woman who changes her mood very quickly. These mood changes are reflected in the unpredictable March weather. When Baba Marta is smiling, the weather is sunny and warm, but if she gets angry, the cold will stay longer and it may even snow.

Bulgarians consider the stork a harbinger of spring and evidence that Baba Marta is in a good mood. Says Sannino, “We wear Martenitsa until we see a stork. After seeing this bird, we hang our Martenitsa on a fruit tree, thus giving the tree the health and luck. This is a holiday for joy, health, and long life. This tradition shows us the necessity of harmony in nature and in people’s lives.”

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