Happy first day of spring!

Yesterday, 20 March, was the day of the March equinox and the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Prompted by the warm and sunny weather we’ve had these days, trees are blooming all over Bulgaria. And according to an ancient custom, Bulgarians are tying the red-and-white yarn adornments they gave to each other on 1 March to the branches of the first blooming tree they see.

The unmistakable red-and-white items are called martenitsi (singular мартеница, martenitsa) and are an important part of Bulgarian identity… though few Bulgarians are aware that similar customs are part of the traditions of Romania, Macedonia and other places in our region too.