Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring has sent me a gift

The amazing world of the Internet, letting us meet people we never met, talking to strangers who become friends, meeting kindred souls in places far from where we are!

Yesterday I received a wonderful letter full of spring from Bulgaria. It came from a wonderful lady Rossichka that you can often see here on the blog. In this day and age a real letter with real stamps from other country is always a treasure. This treasure had a little spring miracle in it. It had a beautiful postcard and two Martenitsas. Martenitsa (Bulgarian: мартеница /ˈmar.tɛ.ni.ʦa/, plural мартеници, martenitsi) is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1st until the 22nd March (or the first time an individual sees a stork or swallow). Mart (март) is the Bulgarian word for the month of March. The name of the holiday is Baba Marta, a Bulgarian tradition related to welcoming the upcoming spring. The month of March, according to Bulgarian folklore, marks the beginning of springtime. Therefore, the first day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off winter and welcoming spring.
I never knew of this holiday, but I fell in love with it. My kids loved to hear the story of the knitted little people travelling all the way from across the ocean to wish us a happy healthy spring. This kind of geography lesson will last a life time.
Thank you dear Rossichka! I am always very happy to see you here and your comments are the most wonderful! Since there is nothing green to hang it on outside, the Martenitsas will meanwhile live on my bamboo in the kitchen. And hope that that will welcome spring into our home.
Meanwhile in the Russian Orthodox Calendar this week is called Maslenitsa.
Maslenitsa (Russian: Ма́сленица), also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week, is a Russian religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the seventh week before Pascha (Easter). Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. The Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date. In 2008, for example, Maslenitsa was celebrated from March 2 to March 8.
Sorry for all the wiki info, but it is hard to resist. We made pancakes this weekend and have been eating them since then. Except for the days when I had a horrid stomach virus, and did not eat anything at all.
And to honor this ancient holiday I introduce a new Tea Party with a Maslenitsa twist. They do have pancakes on that table:)


missknits said...

how fun! those martenitsas are just too cute!

rossichka said...

Oh, I am so happy that my мартеници (martenitsi) have reached you in time! I see you've found a good information for this Bulgarian custom. I will add some more in the week-end and I'll send it to you together with a few photos of the martenitsi's market in the centre of my town. You can't imagine what variety of models one can find there! And all of them are BEAUTIFUL! Thank you, Vita, for sharing this on your blog!! It was such a surprise! I'm so glad that these little martenitsi will take part in the welcoming of Spring in your house!
BUT, have in mind!:-) We believe that Granny Marta rules the month of March. And she is bad-tempered... If the 1st of March is cloudy and there's no sun, it means
that she is angry. That's why early in the morning, before sunrise, women must sweep the house and hang a read cloth on the balcony or in the yard. Granny Marta loves the red colour and is supposed to smile when she sees it. To tell you the truth - I do these things after midnight, because I'm a "night bird"...


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