In certain parts of the Balkan (Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova) there is a custom associated with the first day of March. It is called “Grandma March” Day. On this day typical red and white tassels, pom-poms or knit (braided) bracelets are exchanged, given to loved ones and they are worn pinned on clothing or tied on the wrist. The hand-made amulets are known by many names as: Martinki (Мартинки in Macedonia), Mártenitsa (Мартеница in Bulgaria), Mărţişor (in Romania and Moldova) and they are associated with the beginning of the spring, when this small artefacts made of red and white woolen thread containing a message with good and positive feelings and expectations, is given to the loved ones. People wear them until the nature starts to bloom and then hang them on trees.
Since 2013, the custom associated with the amulets was proposed to be protected as intangible cultural heritage with the multinational application to UNESCO, in which the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria and Moldavia takes part. The application is still ongoing and it is one of the strongest links connected to this event bringing on the daylight a topic less known for the tradition of the Balkan people.
Martinki is about a beautiful custom spread throughout one part of the Balkan Peninsula, which EXARC member Haemus wants to promote outside its indigenous areas. They designed a series of events shaped as an exhibition, to show the unique, but still multinational character of this cultural practices associated to the first of March. The exhibition is comprised of many elements, featuring original handmade amulets from three of the countries as well as panels, documentaries, creative workshops and a bazaar where attendees can buy their very own amulet. Its aim is to transmit a message as well as to inspire the future generation to preserve, to protect and to promote the “Grandma March” Day. The main aim of the project is promotion of the Balkan cultural heritage through popularization, including the common cultural practices of the Balkan Peninsula.
As part of the institutional cross-border partnership ”National Identities Within the United Europe”, this travelling exhibition with unknown final destination will first visit Skopje (Macedonia), then Vidin (Bulgaria) and Buzău (Romania), and after that is available for anyone interested. Can this exhibition pop up elsewhere in Europe too? For more information, contact Haemus.