Baba Marta (a.k.a Grandma Marta) is a mythical person in Bulgarian and other Balkan countries’ folklore. The name of Baba Marta is connected to the month of March. Baba Marta is the sister of Golyam Sechko (the month of January) and Malyk Sechko (the month of February). Baba Marta is at times nice and kind and at times angry and evil. Some say her meanness was caused by her younger brothers drinking all her wine. This is why the weather in March is considered to be unpredictable. As unpredictable as Baba Marta’s temper.
Nevertheless, the image of Baba Marta is usually connected with the coming of spring and with the martenitsi tradition. If you visit Bulgaria in the beginning of March, don’t be surprised to see people meeting on the streets and tying red and white bracelets made of red and white yarn to each other’s wrists, and wishing each other to be healthy and happy during the year. The red and white thread bracelets and ornaments are called martenitsi. When you receive a martenitsa, you have to make a wish. You remove the martenitsa from your wrist when you see a stork or a tree in bloom. The martenitsa is then tied to a tree in bloom, and your wish will come true. The giving of martenitsi is a pagan tradition, and symbolizes the interplay between life on Earth (the red color) and eternity (the white color).