Martenitsa (Bulgarian: мартеница, pronounced [ˈmartɛnit͡sa], Macedonian: мартинка, Greek: μάρτης, Romanian: mărțișor) 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” is the Bulgarian word for “grandmother” and Mart is the Bulgarian word for the month of March. Baba Marta is a Bulgarian tradition related to welcoming the upcoming spring. The month of March, according to Bulgarian folklore, marks the beginning of springtime. Therefore, the first day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off winter and welcoming spring.
This is an old pagan tradition that remains almost unchanged today. Many people wear more than one martenitsa. They receive them as presents from relatives, close friends and colleagues. Martenitsa is usually worn pinned on the clothes, near the collar, or tied around the wrist. The tradition calls for wearing the martenitsa until the person sees a stork or a blooming tree. The stork is considered a harbinger of spring and as evidence that Baba Marta is in a good mood and is about to retire.
The ritual of finally taking off the martenitsa may be different in different parts of Bulgaria. Some people would tie their martenitsa on a branch of a fruit tree, thus giving the tree health and luck, which the person wearing the martenitsa has enjoyed himself while wearing it.
Wearing one or more martenitsi is a very popular Bulgarian tradition. The martenitsa symbolises new life, conception, fertility, and spring. The time during which it is worn is meant to be a joyful holiday commemorating health and long life.