Spring Gifts from Faraway Friends

At one of the places where I work as a consultant, a young woman from the Sophia (Bulgaria) office came to work in California for a few weeks recently. Before she returned home, she left an attractive box with one of my co-workers, promising gifts for all on March 1st.

On Monday, a reminder email arrived, so at lunch time we gathered and opened the box.

The box included a selection of nicely wrapped red and white armbands and dolls made of thread. We were a bit mystified, but luckily, the box also included instructions, which explained the gift. Here's a summary from Wikipedia (there's more to this tradition, do read the Wikipedia article). 

Martenitsa (Bulgarian: мартеница, pronounced [ˈmartɛnit͡sa]; plural мартеници martenitsi) is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March (or the first time an individual sees a stork, swallow or budding tree). The name of the holiday is Baba Marta. "Baba" (баба) is the Bulgarian word for "grandmother" and Mart (март) is the Bulgarian word for the month of March.

The article further explains that the name was chosen because March, alternating grumpy and friendly, reminds us of an old woman.

The gifts were martenitsi, and as our instructions explained, they were to be worn near the lapel of one's clothes, attached with a safety pin, or tied around the wrist. We took a little time picking the perfect Martenitsa and then followed the instructions and adorned our wrist or lapel. It was quite exciting and fun -- who doesn't enjoy a little gift when the weather even here in California is more wet and gray than sunny and bright.

There's only one conundrum: When and where to dispose of our Martenitsi. Truth be told, my plum tree is just about done blooming. The nectarine is in full bloom right now. 

The peach tree, still somewhat bare, also started blooming a few days ago. 


But no matter. The gift truly warmed our heart. And as we hang our gifts on the blossoming trees, we say to our faraway friends -- and to all readers of the blog -- Happy Baba Marta!


Gail said…
A simply charming custom! How delightful to receive such a sweet gift and especially one that reminds us to appreciate those early spring gifts... Your spring blossoms are perfect for the Martenitsa. gail
Christine said…
So sweet! I'm really impressed you figured out to type in Bulgarian script, too.
I love the idea of a blossoming tree adorned with such lovely objects!
What a lovely post. I wasn't aware of this custom, and how wonderful to receive such beautiful spring gifts!

Our peach tree seems to be on par with yours...I'm hopeful though, it's looking like our weather will improve significantly next week. I'm looking forward to gardening without getting wet!
Town Mouse said…
Ha Christine, that was just a copy-paste from Wikipedia. Try it. You can be as multi-lingual as you like.
Country Mouse said…
Lovely to have such customs to get us through the bleaker months. I'd like something for Februaries, please. In fact, for next February maybe I can come up with some kind of simple crafts-games garden oriented type of activity and have a potluck kind of gathering. By March the budding leaves all around are generally cheering enough.

Also CVF's comment that the weather is due to improve is VERY cheering - yay to be out in the garden without rain dripping down the collar, and mud on the boots!
What a cool custom; I'd never heard of that. You can send your bracelet to someone in, oh I dunno, Michigan, who won't see buds before April, anyway! ")
Noelle said…
What a wonderful tradition she introduced you all too. If I were you, I would wear them until the end of March even though flowers are already blooming :^)
Brad said…
Very interesting. I think here in Ca you'd have to start wearing it Feb 1st. Hmmm budding trees sure, a stork? We might have to change that part as well. That's a great way to await the spring though.
What a great tradition and a lovely gift! This is what I love about reading blogs, I learn things that I would be unlikely to find in the course of reading a newspaper or magazine. Delightful.