Holidays and Traditions
Bulgarians love to celebrate and their calendar is full of traditional and other festivities. The extent to which some of the more traditional holidays are celebrated may vary from region to region and the folklore traditions are more prevelent in rural Bulgaria than in the larger towns.A very important role is played by the Name Days. Most name days are fixed calendar days although some are related to religious events such as Easter and therefore fall on different dates each year.Friends and family are free to visit those celebrating their name day, bringing gifts and flowers. Typically the person celebrating, will also share out chocolates or other treats amongst his work colleagues on that day.
Not only do the Spring months mark one of the most charming times of the year to experience Bulgarian cultural and folklore traditions such as the Martenitsas, but also some of Bulgaria's most significant holidays (such as the National Day and Easter) are celebrated at this time of year. Here are just some of the celebrations one may come across.
The first of March and Martenitsas
March is generally known as the woman's month because the weather is said to be as moody as a woman's mood swings (Cold harsh winter/ warm and pleasant spring)"Chestita Baba Marta" is how Bulgarians greet each other on this day. They then present each other with martenitsa's. Red and white woolen threads entwined, symbolising health and happiness for the coming months. You will see stalls all over town selling martenitsas, starting at around 50 stotinki for the most simple ones. Each year the assortment on offer gets more elaborate. Martenitsas are usually pinned to lapels or tied around wrists and worn till the first stork is seen. They should then be tied on a fruit tree or buried under a stone whilst making a wish.
9th March Mladenitzi (The day of the Holy Forty Martyrs)
It is believed that on this day god drives forty hot spikes into the soil and the sun turns to summer. It is time to sow and plant. Housewives should cook 40 stuffed peppers and everyone should try to eat 40 different items on this day as a protection against measles.