Today is a really cool holiday in Bulgaria. In fact, I may go as far as to say it's the coolest. To celebrate the month of March everyone gives each other red and white bracelets and they tie to each others wrists on the first of the month. There are many differnt varieties with wooden beads, ones that you pin to your sweaters, ones in shapes of a Bulgarian girl and boy, and many others. Right now I'm covered in different Martinichis (the bracelets). There are many different stories about what the red and white means and it all boils down to a white thread that ended up getting covered in red blood but by the end of the story the heroes ended up living to the end. So that original thread that is now red and white was the first Martinichka.
This morning I came to school and a teacher greeted me with the phrase, "Chestita Baba Marta", and gave me a braclet. My first one of the day. She then told me that I couldnt go into the teachers lounge. I waited with her in the entrance way. After a bit the kindergartners came into the school. Soon after their arrival our radio journalism students put on a really good program all about the traditions of the holiday as well as an interview with the actual Baba Marta (Grandmother March). People wear the red and white decorations to appease her and make it so that winter will soon be gone. When she is happy, the month of March is lovely and when she is not, March can be very cold. She is the reason that March is such a tumultous month for weather. Whatever we can do to keep her happy, we'll do!
After this all the kids went outside and Baba Marta came out and greeted us. She talked to all the kids and gave them bracelets to keep them healthy and happy. Then we walked over to the fire that was started. Another tradition of today is to clean the house in the morning because Baba Marta loves it when things are clean (spring cleaning!!). All the trash that is gathered is put onto a fire for good luck. The rest of the day no one will cook or do any difficult work. So we cleaned our classrooms and brought the trash to the fire. Each class dumped the trash on the fire and then all the kids jumped over it for good luck. With the kindergartners two teachers held the arms of each child to help them jump high enough. I missed all of this last year b/c I was snowboarding with my grandfather durning the holiday. I made sure to email him and remind him to celebrate the holiday today! All the kids eventually jumped over the fire and even I took a nice big jump! I didnt get burned and this should mean good luck for me all year.
I am now covered in red and white decorations and tonight I will have to remove many of them. A person just can't seriously walk around with 20 bracelts. But I will keep a few on and when I see a stork for the first time, or a budding fruit tree after March 22nd (official spring) I'll take them off and tie them to a tree. This will bring me good luck. Something else that I could do is to put one under a rock since I'm unmarried. This should bring me luck in love and I could certainly use some luck in that area. The children also put them under rocks and the next day, Baba Marta will have taken the bracelets and have left them candy or a 5cent coin.
This is a very important luck and can influence a persons entire year. No one wants bad luck all year so we try and stick to all the traditions. Plus they are really fun and everyone likes fun!