A Travellerspoint blog

Signs of Spring

Veliko Tarnovo


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A beautiful sunny day today, so I took advantage of the day off work and walked to the market in town.

On the main road leading into Mother Bulgaria Square I saw lots of stalls selling martenitsas; these are red and white tassels, bracelets woven from intertwined red and white threads and little wooden doll figures called Pizho and Penda. These are exchanged by Bulgarians on 1st March to mark Baba Marta Day, the day which traditionally marks the end of the cold of winter and the beginning of spring. You aren't supposed to buy martenitsas for yourself; you should only wear ones given to you, and you're supposed to wear them until you either see a stork or a blossoming tree. Once you do see a blossoming tree, you should tie the martenitsa to it or hang it from a branch.

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I noticed other signs of spring once I got to the market. Old women were sitting on stools, selling bunches of snowdrops and white plastic cups of colourful flowers (possibly primroses). There were fewer winter vegetables such as swedes, turnips, cabbages, pumpkins and nuts; salad vegetables were starting to appear - spring onions, lettuces, peppers and a huge amount of tiny onions! I had never seen such small onions before.

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Another interesting thing I saw was massive chunks of 'byala halva' (white halva) with walnuts - it looked like nougat. I found out later that this type of halva is traditionally eaten on the last Sunday before Lent; given that this was nearly two weeks ago, I guess there must still be a bit of a backlog to use up...I also saw some massive knotted sugary buns which I had not seen before, so I assume they must have some connection to spring or to Lent. I bought one and it was fantastic!

Posted by 3Traveller 16:20 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged market bulgaria veliko_tarnovo bulgarian_cuisine mother_bulgaria_square baba_marta traditional_customs

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