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Festive mood in the office: ONSITES welcomes spring by celebrating Baba Marta Day

Another unique holiday was celebrated at the ONSITES office, gathering all employees together for a day filled with smiles, joy and a positive mood.

01 Mar 2021

Traditions are just as important at the workplace as they are at home, which is why ONSITES always aims at acknowledging the most important holidays of the Bulgarian culture. Maintaining traditions at work is essential for the high morale of employees, especially in a country like Bulgaria where culture and cultural values play an important role in shaping people as individuals. Holidays and observances in Bulgaria usually relate to people’s philosophy of life, their relationship with nature and society, as well as the well-being of their families. One of the first observances throughout the year to mark this is Baba Marta. A day filled with positive thoughts, happiness and smiles that warm people’s hearts and souls amidst the freezing weather. 

The centuries-old tradition is celebrated every year on the 1st of March, marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring. On Baba Marta’s day (Baba meaning “grandma” and Marta meaning “March”), Bulgarians exchange the so-called martenitsa, an amulet made out of twined red and white woolen threads which symbolize health and purity. Martenitsi are given out with the wish for health and happiness, while also serving as a lucky charm against evil spirits. Since Baba Marta is perceived as a day of fertility not only for people but also agriculturally, throughout the country many people are also hanging martenitsi on trees, domestic animals, or even their houses. The little red and white threads are usually worn until one sees a stork, which is believed to be one of the first signs that spring has finally come. Once this happens, people take off their martenitsa and hang it on a tree that is just beginning to blossom. Across the country many trees can be seen adorned with the beautiful martenitsi hanging from their fragile branches. 

There are many legends and myths about how this observance started and who exactly Baba Marta is. The most common belief that exists in Bulgarian folklore is that Baba Marta is a mythical figure of an old lady that often changes her moods from being kind and smiling to being grumpy and angry. This is to serve as a reference of the changeable March weather that tends to shift suddenly from sunny and warm to freezing cold and snowy. As for the birth of the martenitsa, there are different legends, however all of them lead to the rulers of Bulgaria back in the 7th century when the First Bulgarian Empire was established. One of the legends has it that khan Asparuh received a gift from his wife Ahinora – a small flower bouquet that was tied with a white thread to the leg of a swallow. The bird is believed to have arrived exactly on the 1st of March to Asparuh who then discovered that half of the thread was colored by the blood from the wounded leg of the swallow. Since then the martenitsa became a symbol of health and love and developed into a tradition that exists even more than 1,300 years later. 

To keep up with the Bulgarian spirit and traditions, all employees at the ONSITES office were celebrating Baba Marta for a third year in a row. Team members brought martenitsi for each other and exchanged them with wishes for good health, happiness, and a successful year ahead. To contribute for the festive spirit the management provided fresh coffee and hot tea along with a variety of delicious snacks that awaited the entire team in the kitchen area. 

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