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One of the most interesting March 1 traditions, still observed today, was the wearing of martenitsas which played the role of amulets protecting their wearers from evil and bad luck.

The martenitsas, two intertwined threads, were made by the lady of the house. The threads would be usually red and white, though in some areas there were red-and-blue variants, or even only red.





In ancient times, spring and summer were regarded as one single season: hence the reason why in many parts of Bulgaria the summer was welcomed on March 1, when the hard work in the fields actually began.
Before dawn on March 1, a fire would be built outside each house, and all those living in it had to jump over the fire so as not to be bitten by snakes in the summer. A little later on in the morning, a red cloth was hung under the eaves, to make Granny Martha (March) laugh.

The red colour was believed to reinforce the life-giving power of the Sun, which promised fertility and prosperity.

According to the popular belief, red had the same power as the Sun, and like the Sun it could drive away all evil forces. That was why the martenitsas could protect people from evil eyes, sorcerers, imps, dragons, vampires, and diseases.

Martenitsas were also believed to aid growth in nature, so they were mostly worn by children, by lads and lasses, and by newlyweds.



Martenitsas were also tied on the newborn domestic animals, on fruit trees, beehives, vines, and under the eaves of the house.

Martenitsas were never thrown away, for that was tantamount to throwing away your good luck.

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