Thursday, 27 February 2020
Folkloric Dolls: Bulgarian Martenitsa Welcoming Spring
Pairs of these dolls, called Martenitsa, are made to celebrate Baba Marta Day, on March 1. Baba Marta means "Grandma March". The pairs of dolls, one male and one female, are traditionally worn on clothing or hung on trees until the first blossom is seen.
That wouldn't quite work in London, as blossom is already starting to come out this year. I'm not sure if that's due to climate change or if London is generally warmer than Bulgaria in early spring. However, it is a lovely custom and I have made the pair of dolls you can see in the photo.
They are hung on my twig tree in my witchy room at the moment, but on March 1 I will either take them outside to put on my apple tree or give them to someone to wear as a gift. Both are correct things to do according to the traditional folklore. Tying the dolls to a fruit tree for the month of March is supposed to ensure a good harvest in the summer. If you wear them on your clothing, you are asking Baba Marta's blessings for an end to winter.
An alternative to making dolls is to twist strands of red and white wool together and hang them from a tree. If you are going to leave any yarn on a tree outdoors for more than a short while, try to make sure it is 100% pure wool because artificial fibres don't biodegrade and can be harmful to both fauna and flora. Also, if it isn't your own tree, ask permission before putting any offerings on it.
The pattern I used for my Martinetsa came from my book Pagan Portals - Poppets and Magical Dolls, and I also shared the pattern on my blog. You can view Poppets and Magical Dolls on Amazon.
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