We’re officially in that awkward period right in between Winter and Spring. Will we have a blizzard? Or will we have 45°F day that brings promises of Springtime breezes? The conventional wisdom says the Spring Equinox is the time to start all our seeds in planters, but first — in most agrarian cultures — it is time to shake out the cobwebs and bless the fields and no tradition embodies this practice quite as well as the Bulgarian holiday, Baba Marta Day!
Baba Marta Day is a Bulgarian holiday still celebrated today in early March — one of the few holdovers in the modern day from pagan Europe. Baba Marta herself is a folkoric figure who is the personification of the month of March. (Baba = Grandmother, Marta = March!) In the legend, Baba Marta is a temperamental old lady who only smiles when its sunny and is prone to fits of temper — explaining the often unpredictability of early Spring weather.
Traditions involved creating these small effigies/dolls with red and white yarn (called a “martenitsa“). They would be worn on the wrist or body until a stork or swallow was seen signifying the start of winter at which point they would be tied to a blossoming tree, as pictured above. Most sources online suggest that white represents “new beginnings” and red “birth” — a fertility symbol to help bring on Spring. However, let’s be real here. Anyone who’s studied even a modicum of fertility religions or sex magick knows that red often represents menstrual blood (birth) and white represents semen (new life). This is why red and white is often associated with Beltane, but that’s getting way ahead of ourselves!
Baba Marta Day is good, pagan fun and can be a fun way to celebrate the upcoming Spring in and of itself outside the Wheel of the Year. However, I think even apart from this specific holiday now is the time of year to be preparing the seeds we plant at Imbolc. That can be literal in the sense of creating blueprint for your outdoor gardens this year or buying seeds and gardening supplies. However, it can also be symbolic as most things in the Wheel of the Year are and are, in my estimation, intended to often be. They are a gateway to using the energies of the seasons that are echoed within ourselves; As Above, So Below.
It is said that Baba Marta shakes out her mattress and the dust comes off like snow which explains how we get those late season snowstorms, but I think this is also a wonderfully analogous symbol for how this is our last opportunity shed the old to make way for the new. The time for Spring Cleaning is afoot. It is also a wonderful time to ask for blessings on the soil or land where you will be planting for the year. Again, this can be literal or figurative. You can break eggs over the land to bless it (which some argue is the origin of the Easter Egg hunt) or you can petition the gods and/or your ancestors to bless that new project you’re about to undertake.
What projects are you planning for this year? Do you have plans to ask for blessings from Spirit before you start? Tell me about what exciting things are coming up for YOU this Spring and Summer in the comments below!