Bulgarians really know how to celebrate on holidays. We have had two holidays recently and the people of Silistra have really included us in the holidays. The first holiday I am referring to is called “ Baba Marta” or Grandma Mart.
This is a holiday that happens every year on the first of March. The Bulgarians celebrate by giving one another red and white pins, bracelets or even necklaces made of yarn they call martanitsas. Some are quite cute and creative and range in the forms of a hat, cat and even people. There is a web site attached to our site in case you want to learn more about this holiday. I want to talk about the joy and excitement everyone was feeling!
My students were ecstatic and many of them seemed in the best mood I had ever seen them in. You see this holiday signifies the beginning of spring and by giving your friends and family these pins you are wishing them health and long life! I had 5 classes the day of Baba Marta and came home with 30 martinitsas. Bulgarians really wanted us to feel a part of the day! I loved receiving these little gifts from people to see the joy on their faces while they were giving.
Some days Bulgarians have the attitude of there being no hope or the attitude that nothing will change for the better. Let’s just say sometimes some are not very optimistic. But not on their holidays it is terrific, it is like the light turns back on in their eyes and they are whistling a happy tune. There is not a single holiday in America like this and it is uniquely Bulgarian. But what it reminds me of was when I was a camp counselor and we made things called “warm fuzzies” which were little balls of yarn. We gave them to each other to make each other feel good. And this is exactly what these little gifts do for the givers and the receivers. I look forward to this holiday again next year and I will have enough martinitsas to celebrate the following year in America so watch out!
The second holiday that I want to tell you about is actually an international holiday called Women’s Day. Bulgarians again included me in this holiday by inviting me to speak at a local radio station. What a unique opportunity for me. There was a woman in charge that organizes this every year. She invites about fifteen women from Silistra to speak on the radio for one minute apiece. Each woman was either from a different ethnic group and spoke a different language or held some kind of important job in the city.
When I showed up at the radio station I found out the broadcast was to be live and was quite nervous. I believe the other women were nervous also but it was a joyful, celebratory atmosphere also. They had asked a photographer to come to take a picture of all the women to speak on the broadcast as we lined up on the stairs outside in the dark. The picture was to be put in the archives, so I guess I get to go down in history in Silistra.
After the picture we went in groups to the tiny broadcasting room. Each women spoke in Bulgarian (including me!) And then they spoke in their native language. Most of the women had lived most of their lives in Bulgaria, but were born in a different country. It was really neat to be able to see many different kinds of woman coming together, greeting their loved ones and speaking about women. I was quite nervous, but made it through all right. I am thankful for this interesting opportunity that made me a part of another holiday in Silistra.
Copyright 2000/01/02, Josh and Kate Miller.