March 1st marks Baba Marta day in Bulgaria! Baba Marta (Баба Марта) means “Grandmother March”, and she is said to bring with her the end of the cold winter and the beginning of the spring. This day is celebrated by the tradition of giving your friends red-and-white interwoven strings, called Martenitsi. These Martenitsi are thought to bring health and happiness during the year and to serve as a reminder that spring is near. People are supposed to take off their Martenitsi when they see the first signs that spring has already come – a blooming tree or a stork.
This holiday is enthusiastically celebrated annually by Spence-Chapin’s international program staff- next time you meet with your social worker, make sure to keep your eye out for a Martenitsa on her wrist!