Shturkel

On March the 1st we celebrate one of the most mystical holidays in Bulgaria. The most interesting custom is the making of martenitsa. The night before or early in the morning on 1st of March the oldest woman in the house twists red and white wool threads. Then she ties martenitsa on the wrinkles of the children, girl’s braids, on the fruit trees and the animals. It is believed that people should wear it until they see a stork for the first time.
A legend says that in the past the stork was a man. Too religious man, a pilgrim – he visits Holy Land for a pray every year. The Holy Father, however, decided to test his great faith. God showed in front of pilgrim and told him to climb on a high mountain with a large chest roped to his back, but it was forbidden to open it and look inside. The man started to climb and in a while stopped for a rest. His curiosity prevailed and he opened the chest. Snakes, lizards and frogs came out and spreaded out all over the world. This made the Holy Father very angry. He turned the man into a stork and told him that he will be a man again when he returns back in the chest all the animals. Since then all summer long the stork goes at rivers and ponds to hunt frogs, snakes and lizards. In the autumn flies to the Holy Land and to seek forgiveness for his sin.
On Blagovets (Annunciation) on 25th of March in Bulgaria there is a custom to kick out the snakes with tongs and spit: Go away, snakes and lizards, the storks are coming! Folks believe that the largest and most poison snakes cannot harm the storks. Eldery people say that a snake can beat an eagle but cannot beat a stork. Bulgarians believe that a house with a stork’s nest on the roof is protected from misfortune. Also destroying a stork’s nest is believed to bring bad luck. There is a superstition seeing the first storks in the spring to take bread in your hands so you can be rich and sate whole year. People prefer to be stand up, not seating so the work can go smoothly and welcome the first storks with the wish: You sit, I fly! Then they tie the white and red martenitsi on a blossomed branch for health.