Chinese Martenitzas Invade Bulgarian Market

Society | February 27, 2012, Monday // 11:28|  views

Pictured: a traditional Bulgarian martenitsa. File photo

"Martenitsas" made in China have flooded the Bulgarian market ahead of the country's traditional Baba Marta holiday, an indigenous folklore tradition that marks the beginning of spring.

A mass invasion of Martenitsas (red-and-white interwoven strings) made in China has been observed over the last few days, according to the BGNES news agency.

"A purely Bulgarian tradition: the act of decorating your loved ones with a hand-made martenitsa in order to wish them luck is outdated now," BGNES concludes, even though the Chinese martentsas are apparently hand-made, too.

On March 1, almost everyone in Bulgaria can be seen with a Martenitsa - a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn, which will be warn until around the end of the month (or the first time an individual sees a stork, swallow or budding tree - the first signs that spring has arrived.) A similar custom (involving "Martisor") can be discovered in Romania and Moldova.

Baba Marta (Grandma March) is believed to be a feisty lady who always seems to be grudging at her two brothers, while the sun only comes out when she smiles.

In addition to its folklore aspects, the Martenitsa holiday also has important economic ramifications for many Bulgarian families – especially for elderly people – who spent the entire year making martenistas in order to sell them on March 1, and thus earn a little extra for their modest family budgets.

In 2011, concerns emerged in Bulgaria that Chinese Martenitsas may change the spirit of the traditionally Bulgarian holiday, as they were often found to be completely out of line with local traditions. An example in hand was the emergence of Chinese-made martenitsas with white and orange threads, while the actual Bulgarian martenitsas are supposed to be white and red.

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Tags: martenitsa, Baba Marta, China, imports, traditions, customs, holidays


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