On 1st March Bulgarians celebrate a centuries-old tradition and exchange martenitsi (small pieces of adornment made of white and red yarn) on what is called the day of Baba Marta. The tradition of giving friends red and white interwoven strings is said to bring health and happiness during the year and is a reminder that spring is near. Baba Marta (which literally means “Granny March”) is the name of a mythical figure that brings with her the end of the cold winter and the beginning of the spring. She is a feisty old lady whose mood swing very quickly. When she’s happy the weather during March is fine and when she’s cross it’s snowing. The common belief is that by wearing the red and white colours of the martenitsa people ask Baba Marta for mercy. People usually wear martenitsi until the end of March when the first signs of the coming Spring appear, namely blossoming trees or when one notices a stork. At that point men, women and children usually tie their martenitsi to a tree following the ancient tradition; thus they call for a fruitful year.
Baba Marta herself will arrive in Veliko Tarnovo on 1st March and together with her granddaughter Martenka will bring joy to the citizens and guests of Veliko Tarnovo. Both of them will make a tour around the town in a motley carriage adorned with many martenitsi. Their first stop will be at 10.30 am in front of the ‘Konstantin Kisimov’ Musical Drama Theatre. Then at 11.05 am the carriage will go to the square in front of Tsarevets Fortress. At 11.40 the jolly granny and her granddaughter will meet children at ‘Iskra’ Community Centre. All day long the cheery couple will give away free martenitsi.