Folk Arts in Season: Martenitsa

folk arts in season Feb 19, 2024

Martenitsa is a charm made out of white and red twisted thread. It's a Bulgarian centuries old tradition celebrating Baba Marta (Grandmother Marta) that brings together mythology, agricultural wisdom and old pagan whispers. It’s about saying goodbye to winter and welcoming spring. It's gifted on March 1st and worn on the wrist or pinned to your clothes (tied in a bow) for good health and prosperity. According to custom, a Martenitsa is worn until the first sure sign of Spring – in Bulgaria, the return of storks to their nests. Then the Martenitsa is taken off and tied onto the branch of a blooming fruit tree.

Making a bracelet:

  1. Cut about 20” (50cm) of red and white wool or cotton yarn. (For the photos below, we used much shorter pieces of yarn.)
  2. Tie the two together into a knot at one end.
  3. Hold the loose end of the white yarn in your left hand and the loose end of the red yarn in your right hand.
  4. Start twisting the two ends in the opposite directions: the white yarn forward and the red yean backward.
  5. Continue twisting the two ends until the yarn feels taught.
  6. Bring the two ends together and hold them (don’t let go) with one hand. (The two colours will twist together.)
  7. With the other hand find the knot you tied at the other end of the yarn at the beginning and pull it until the yearn straightens into one piece of white and red yarn twisted together.
  8. Tie the two loose ends into a knot.
  9. Here you go... You now have a Martenitsa bracelet.

You could also tie the Martenitsa in a bow and wear it pinned to your clothes.

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