Before I start to tell you about the maddened grannie and the young and beautiful lovers Pizho and Penda I want to assure you that neither the "Beast from the East" nor the "Pest from the West" are responsible for the snow blizzards and the minus temperatures that have hit us in recent days.

Baba Marta (Grandma March) is believed to be the only one responsible for the widespread chaos. She is a feisty old lady whose mood swings rapidly, and therefore the weather in March is constantly changing. When Baba Marta is angry, the weather is cold and the winter lasts a little bit longer, and when she laughs – it is warm and pleasant. But you may ask, why was Granny Marta so angry this year? What caused her to bring us such a brutal winter? What could we do to gain her mercy so that she brings us the sun again?

The common belief of the people in the Balkan Peninsula and mostly in Bulgaria is that you have to please the grumpy granny. This can be achieved by wearing a small piece of adornment made of white and red yarn from the 1st of March. In this way, she will be satisfied and hopefully, she will make the winter pass faster and bring spring sooner.

Wearing the red and white colours of ‘Martenitsa’ is one of the oldest pagan traditions in Europe that still exists today. But what is a Martenitsa? A typical Martenitsa consists of two small wool dolls, Pizho, the male doll, made of white thread and Penda, the female doll, made of the red one.

Who, however, are Pizho and Penda? According to one of the legends – they are newlyweds in love. Pizho is a handsome young man, very hardworking, so he always has red cheeks, and Penda is a young woman, a beautiful woman, of all women fairest to behold. The two fell in love and soon had a big wedding, inviting everyone from their nearest villages. They were all very rejoiced and so they eternalised Pizho and Penda by making figures of a boy and a girl with white and red motifs in their honour. That's why Martenitsa is a symbol of the coming spring and the beginning of life.

When someone gives you a Martenitsa you should wear it proudly because the martenitsa is always given to loved ones and close friends. You can wear it either pinned on your clothes or tied around your wrist. And if, at the end of March, you see blossoming trees adorned with red and white bracelets - do not be surprised. The tradition is that the person wears the martenitsa until he or she first sees a stork, swallow or a blossoming tree. But because the first two are hard to see on these latitudes, blossoming trees branches are the most common option.

We hope that by wearing the martenitsa, we can make the infuriated woman smile again, and the cold and dark winter evenings turn into beautiful spring landscapes where we can listen to the crickets singing and the sound of the warm spring wind.

Raya Uzunova- Bancroft's School