Martenitsas as Cultural Heritage:
Research Interpretations and Museum Representations
Martenitsas as Cultural Heritage
In the Bulgarian mind-set, martenitsas are seen as one of the national identity emblems. Notwithstanding the fact that most elements of the 1 March rite complex in the folklore calendar have dropped out, it still is a sustainable tradition today for all members of the Bulgarian community to wear martenitsas.
In the 19th century folklore tradition, martenitsas were neither exchanged nor given as a present. They were usually made by the oldest woman at home; she tied a red-and-white twisted thread around the wrist or the neck of the most vulnerable family members: children, maidens and young brides, as well as newborn domestic animals (Mikov 2018: 26). Modernity gave the start of a process of urbanising festive practices, and new cultural models appeared. The martenitsa changed its functions; so did the shape and the materials of which it was made (Mikov 2018: 29-30). It became an article of trade produced by artisans and specialised industrial company departments. A new form of exchanging greetings appeared: good wishes sent on illustrated postcards with martenitsas attached to them. That became a mass-spread practice in the 1960s. Although mostly virtual, today we keep sending and receiving Baba Marta postcards (Тодорова 2020: 141–144).
In 2017, the nomination of the Martenitsa element related to the cultural practices on 1 March was registered in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. That was a multinational nomination of Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and the Republic of North Macedonia. That act was the international recognition of the cultural practices associated with 1 March and the martenitsa as a leading ritual element.
In the Bulgarian science, the interpretations of the rites connected to 1 March and to martenitsas in particular concern mainly the folklore version and the reconstruction of mythological concepts and archetypes (Йорданова 1972; Василева 1985; Миков 1985; Вълчинова 1994; Баева 2012; Байчинска 2016; Виденова 2020). In some research works, this theme is covered only in summarising and final texts only as noting the changes. The final paragraph of L. Mikov’s monograph Ritualism Connected to 1 March offers conclusions about the modern status of this feast and the transformed function of the martenitsa from an amulet into an art object (Миков 1985: 81). The author mentions the same findings in another text, with no further descriptions or detailed analyses of the urbanised and the newly introduced feast practices and ritualistic elements.
In their reviews of the traditional system of calendar feasts and rites and the analyses of its changing functions and content, some authors find that 1 March is still celebrated, even if the set of rituals is reduced (Simeonova 2000:91; Roydeva 2004: 159), but they also do not specify any details about the new practice forms and elements. In most of the BAS collections of articles on individual regions and ethnographic groups, the comments on the changes in the traditional calendar festive practices do not mention anything about the practices related to 1 March.
In the recent years, although rarely, some new research texts started focusing on specific changes related to the festive behaviour and the shape, the uses and the awareness that the martenitsa is a material carrier of the traditions that occurred in the last century. The processes following the democratic changes in Bulgaria are commented in an article by Irina Sedakova from the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Sedakova 2009: 139 – 148). The comparison she makes between the situation in the socialist era (until the late 1970s) and in the early 21st century identifies evidences – visible even in the urban environment – of a trend of expanding and demonstrating the practices connected with martenitsas (hanging them on trees and shrubs). The article makes further comments on the phenomena activated by the new technologies: virtual greetings replace the common paper postcards. A huge amount of information about the “new old” mythology of the martenitsa and the ritualism on 1 March is being spread on the Internet. However, the focus is generally on the semantics and the pragmatism the Bulgarians attribute today to the martenitsas. For the author, the case of the martenitsas in Bulgaria is a valuable indicator of the community development processes, priorities and trends (Sedakova 2009: 139).
In his text ‘Martenitsas in the Past and Now’, Dzheni Madzharov presents the folklore tradition and reviews its development untill today. The observations and findings in this text concern the newly coined 20th century changes of the ritualistic object; there is also an analysis of the reasons for that. The mythologisation of the martenitsa and its steady binding only to the Bulgarian culture – a process around the 1960s – is also interpreted. Its consequence, the author believes, is the Legend of the Martenitsa related to Khan Asparuh that was created and imposed. Seeing and using the martenitsa as an ethno-specific marker is described also in the behaviour of emigrants and their communities around the world. New practices visible in urban spaces have been identified: trees and buildings decorated in white and red; installations with compositions with the figures of Baba Marta, Pizho and Penda and martenitsas in other shapes have become part of the urban decoration. (Madzharov 2018: 8-25)
In the article presented by V. Lozanova-Stancheva at the research conference ‘Spring in the Calendar of Festive Rites: Tradition and Modernity’ in Sofia in 2019, she tried to trace the genesis of the modern myth-making serving as a tool to manipulate the martenitsa functions as a ‘national Bulgarian symbol bearing an unquestionable mark of authenticity’. The article tries to follow the main versions of the pseudo-myth of the Proto-Bulgarian origin of the martenitsa and its story. It tracks its roots leading to Nikola Raynov’s (1889–1954) short story ‘Queen Ahinora’ (1918). The phases of its creation are presented in conformity with the political and ideological situations in the development of the Bulgarian society and the Bulgarian state; the article also dwells on its use in the context of the manipulations of the national identity of the Bulgarians (Лозанова-Станчева 2019: 45-72).
B. Petkova explores the newly born trend in the recent years to ‘intertwine’ elements of the folklore feast of Baba Marta bearing a symbolical meaning with the national holiday – the Day of Bulgaria’s Liberation from Ottoman Rule (3 March), and the newly-coined cultural phenomenon provisionally called ‘patriotic martenitsa’. The observations are focused on the modern use of martenitsas and especially the use of the martenitsa in the three colours of the national flag in the context of the growing processes of people manifesting their national identity and demonstrating patriotism in various forms. Along with the ‘patriotic’ martenitsa, the analysis covers the celebration postcard for 1 March and 3 March (Петкова 2021: 387 – 402).
The specific manifestations of festive behaviour and the development of new cultural practices and attributes in our modern history are presented in the article ‘Celebrating 1 March in the Socialist Period’ published in volume ХХІІ of the Bulletin of the Rousse Regional Museum of History (Тодорова 2020: 139-152).
 For example, the publications containing field materials: ‘Добруджа“ (Василева 1974: 341–344), „Пирински край“ (Дражева 1980: 453–456), „Ловешки край“ (Попов 1999: 319–320), „Странджа“ (Гребенарова 1996: 348–350), „Капанци“ (Василева 1985а: 230–235).
Martenitsas in museum representations 
Museums to a large extent follow the field research development and the research approaches when dealing with martenitsas and the festive practices specific to the 20th century related to them. Their presentation and interpretation in exhibitions and activities are oriented to the traditional heritage version as material heritage and also as intangible cultural heritage.
Where are the martenitsas in the museum? Availability in the Bulgarian museum collections
The fundament of any museum is its collections. Their richness, diversity and level to which they have been studied largely predetermine the performance of the museum’s key goals, namely to preserve, study, promote, show and share knowledge. The search for materials on this topic in the museums has revealed that up until now only the British museum holds a collection of Bulgarian martenitsas that is digitalised and virtually accessible. Most of them are from the 1990s. The British professionals have classified them as cultural heritage defined as ‘amulets’ connected with Bulgaria.
The situation in the Bulgarian museums is rather different. Most of them do not have martenitsas registered in their main collections. Nearly all ethnographic departments register martenitsas in the auxiliary research collection; it contains originals that do not have the quality of cultural heritage. The martenitsas in the museums in the country are replicas of traditional originals; they are made by museum professionals on the basis of fieldwork descriptions. The idea is to have illustrations of ritualistic objects in an exhibition narrative about spring calendar rites; some of them are common designs made by representatives of communities that are being studied and presented. There are also cases of martenitsas registered in the same collection that have been donated by children, who made them when participating in martenitsa workshops. In some instances, the registered martenitsas have been donated by artisans inspired by the traditional designs yet using innovative techniques or forms. That is the reason why, under the Cultural Heritage Act, most of the martenitsas available in the museums are not cultural heritage.
Because of the manner of making and using martenitsas in pre-modern culture, and considering the fact that most of the inherited practices described by ethnographers came to an end a long time ago, it is impossible in any way for a museum to acquire authentic 19th century objects. The aspiration of the ethnographer curators to display ‘the most genuine’ version of the folklore tradition as well as the adherence to scientific interpretations on the rituals related to 1 March shifts the museum professionals’ perspective away from the changing living tradition and leads to the above mentioned work approaches focused on reconstructing the martenitsas that existed in the past. I should note, however, that it does happen, even though rarely, that museum professionals register in their main collections martenitsas and greeting cards from modern and current times: the Regional Ethnographic Museum in Plovdiv, and the regional museums in Shumen and Rousse. There are museums that have no martenitsas in any of their collections and do not perform any collection or research work on this theme – for example in the Regional History Museum in Lovech and in the town museum in Etropole.
It is a paradox that the martenitsa as a ritualistic element, both in the international and in the local aspect in the Bulgarian system of values, is unquestionably regarded as cultural heritage, but it can be quite rarely seen as a cultural heritage object in the museum collections, with very few exceptions. Certainly, no 19th century martenitsas will appear, but we still have the chance to collect, preserve and present in the museums the martenitsas that keep functioning as an element of feast rituals related to a sustainable and dynamic celebration practice in the 20th century.
 The observation and the analysis offered here were first published in the article ‘Мартеници в музейните интерпретации’ published in the Местни общности, културни наследства и музеи collection. 2021 г. (Тодорова 2021). Free access on: http://iefem.bas.bg/mestni-obshtnosti-kulturni-nasledstva.html
 Objects acquired by the museum that are defined as cultural heritage are registered either in the main collection or in an exchange collection.
Martenitsas as exhibition objects
Of all museums that were studied, martenitsas were found in the permanent exhibitions of three regional museums: Vratsa, Veliko Tarnovo and Kardzhali. In all three museums, the martenitsas are replicas of traditional designs and are part of the museum narrative about calendar feasts in the corresponding region. Taken out of their ritualistic context, they are illustrations to the Ritualistic Objects sub-theme, and the text on the signs by them reads ‘Traditional martenitsas’.
The exhibitions in Vratsa and Veliko Tarnovo were created in the socialist era (the 1980s); the one in Kardzhali is from the 1990s. (Иванова 2016: 159–185). The nature of those exhibitions corresponds to various versions of the larger national story and illustrates regional ethnographic features. Created by the community that presents itself, this kind of exhibitions relies on the existing knowledge of their audiences; therefore, many of the objects in them are information carriers per se. The missing elements of the whole narration are added in the story told by a guide or a curator.
Unlike the very small number of permanent exhibitions with martenitsas, nearly all museums having an ethnographic profile make temporary martenitsa exhibitions in the period before 1 March. Usually, displayed in small showcases or on boards, those martenitsas are either part of the auxiliary research fund or are made by children during the workshops organized by the museum in the same season. To highlight the value of the martenitsas, the exhibitions often contain other objects that also belong to the traditional culture – national costumes, fabrics with traditional designs, earthenware pots, bottle gourds, etc. The temporary exhibitions have no posters with information texts; they will rarely have any text comments, either. In most of the cases, such exhibitions are meant to illustrate traditional martenitsas for the needs of the workshops organised by museum workers.
Another reason to organise a temporary exhibition is a visiting private collection of martenitsas and greeting cards for 1 March, or products of artisans making applied art, or the so-called traditional art crafts. Although still quite rarely, there are exhibitions in which the museum shows a mix of traditional and modern martenitsas and 1 March greeting cards. The museum professionals in Shumen organised in 2015 a martenitsa workshop and an exhibition called ‘The Living Tradition’. It showed martenitsas made by children in the workshops for children between 1998 and 2002 and postcards from the 1920s-1930s from the museum collection side by side with private collections of modern martenitsas. In the Museum of History in Rousse, we showed in 2019 martenitsas and greeting cards from the socialist period; in 2020 – Romanian martenitsas from Giurgiu, and in 2021 – 1 March greeting cards from the 20th century.
 The observations of museum exhibitions and activities combined hands-on experience and indirect observation of visual materials published on the Internet. Interviews were held with professional curators or directors of the following museums: National Ethnographic Museum in Sofia, National Museum of History – Sofia, Plovdiv Regional Museum of History, the regional museums in Vidin, Vratsa, Pleven, Lovech, Shumen, Veliko Tarnovo, Stara Zagora, Varna, Targovishte; the municipal museums in Tutrakan, Polski Trambesh, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Elena and Etropole. The official websites and the FB pages of NEM-Sofia, NMH-Sofia, nearly all regional museums and many of the municipal museums were studied while the work on this research topic was in progress.
 Cf: Ethnographic Museum in Berkovitsa: https://www.berkovitsa.bg/изложба-мартеници-за-здраве-и-сила (11.02. 2021); Gabrovo Regional Museum of History – https://sever.bg/Представяме –ви/Мартеници-по-автентични -образци-от-11-региона в-страната-_l.a_c.29916_i.266090.html. (11.02. 2021).
See.: exhibition of the Association of Artisans in IEFSEM-BAS: http://pochivka.com/n19-43416–Софийският_етнографски_музей_открива_пролетна_изложба-базар_на_мартеници; exhibition of martenitsa artists visiting Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History – https://bnr.bg/starazagora/post/101081943/izlojba-sas-svoi-martenici-shte-otkrie-za-osmi-pat-jurnalistkata-tana-ivanova (11.02. 2022).
 https://www.facebook.com/museumruse/posts/2122141741172491 (15.02.2021), and in 2021 https://www.facebook.com/museumruse/photos/a.141461815907170/3760715997315049/ (01.03.2021).
Martenitsas in the museum activities
In the recent 20 years, the sustainable activities in most museums seem to have been the events prior to 1 March that are targeted above all to the audience of children. They are the fruit of the desire to break the stereotype concept of the museum as ‘a place where you do not touch anything’, and the audiences get entertaining information and hands-on experience with the tradition. The most common form is martenitsa workshops organised in the museum. This activity type has been known since the socialist period, when it was included in the kindergarten and school curricula as part of the interactive education in traditions. In the post-1989 period, with the democratisation of the museum institution and the open access to museum territories, the museum workers started using the same model. A compulsory activity element is a presentation to clarify the 1 March ritual practices, the martenitsa symbolism and the folklore concepts of Baba Marta. Sometimes the event includes staging: the instructor or somebody else, wearing a traditional costume, plays the role of Baba Marta. The participants keep the martenitsas they make, but they often donate some of their products to the museum. It is exactly those martenitsas that go to the auxiliary research fund of the museum. Most of the colleagues still prefer to make presentations of the traditional folklore versions, and the participants’ task is to make such types of martenitsas. A similar approach is used for outstationed presentations made by museum workers in different institutions for children.
Examples of diversifying the ethnographic perspective to the cultural heritage in all its forms specific to the second half of the 20th century are very rarely seen (Казаларска 2016: 89–90; Иванова 2016: 159–185; Ненов 2018: 191–202; Шаренкова 2020: 399). The recent decade has yielded some new practices the participants in which are encouraged to experiment with different forms and materials. The idea is that traditional designs serve as an inspiration to create modern martenitsas. In 2019, martenitsas of traditional designs were made in the museum in Pazardzhik, but along with the traditional designs, a demonstration of making innovative martenitsas shaped of dough was offered to the participants, and in in the year that followed, the material was cornhusks. The participants in the Ecomuseum in Rousse used handmade paper and flower seeds to make martenitsas.
The martenitsa competitions organized by the museums have a growing popularity. They are either on the local level, with the museum being the host, and the museum workers performing the role of the panel, or at the national level, also with a competition panel of jurors from the organising museum, and in some cases, some of the jurors are artists and artisans.
Charity bazaars are another type of activity targeted to a larger number of participants. With such bazaars, the museum is either the organiser, the host and/or a collaborator in the charity event. Workshops, exhibitions and martenitsa competitions are organised also by museums that do not have martenitsas in any of their collections.
Museum activities for different audiences combine the interpretation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage concerning the festive practices connected to 1 March. Along with that, they create new practices if these activities are seen as focused on 1 March and fit in the modern urban culture. The recent years have revealed trends of including national and patriotic events: 1 March and 3 March are merged, and the martenitsas often have a green thread so that they look like the national flag.
Most museum activities are for the audience of children. That way, however, they duplicate similar activities of schools, community cultural centres and other institutions for children. Here comes the question of how much the museums need such events, and to what extent they fit in the museum education.
See.:exhibition of martenitsas with a stage production and a program performed by children in the ethnographic exhibition in Vidin- https://bnr.bg/vidin/post/100526559/150-rachno-izraboteni-martenici-sa-predstaveni-v-krastata-kazarma-vav-vidin (15.06. 2022); martenitsa workshop with theatre staging elements in the Haskovo museum – https://www.parvomai.net/news/487808/martenichki-v-muzeya (12.06.2022);
 See: RMH Sofia:https://www.az-deteto.bg/atelie-za-izrabotvane-na-avtentitchni-martenitsi-sabira-detsa-v-regionalniya-istoritcheski-muzey-v-sofiya/17157/view.html (12.06.2021); RMH Targovishte: http://targovishte.tv/targovishte/kultura-targovishte/item/1772-atelie-za-avtentichni-martenitzi-v-muzeya-v-targovishte (12.06.2022).
RMH – Pazardzhik:https://www.marica.bg/region/pazardjik/deca-pravqt-martenici-v-muzeq (15.06.2021); https://www.pz-topnews.bg/етнографската-експозиция-на-музея-в-п/ (15.06.2021).
Rousse Ecomuseumhttps://bntnews.bg/bg/a/posadi-si-martenitsa-novata-initsiativa-na-ekomuzeya-v-ruse (15.06.2022).
 See RMH-Smolyan:https://www.haskovo.net/news/416833/konkurs-za-martenichki-da-vpletem-balgariya-v-evropa-obyaviha-v-smolyan (15.06.2021); RMH – Lovech: https://lovechtoday.eu/konkurs-za-avtentichni-martenici-objav/(15.06.2022).
 See: Etar REOAM : https://dnews.bg/napravete-martenici-ot-gaitan-i-uchastvaite-v-nacionalnia-konkurs-na-muzei-etar.html(15.06.2022);
 See:Etar REOAM :https://dnews.bg/baba-marta-v-etara-podkrepa-balgarskata-koleda.html (10.02.2021); RMH Haskovo: https://www.haskovo.net/news/487148/blagotvoritelen-bazar-veselite-martenichki (10.06.2022).
 The museum sessions in Byala Cherkva in 2021 included a Baba Marta event and martenitsa making along with paying homage to 3 March, with a revolutionaries’ vow taken before a dagger and a gun, and a story about the Russo-Turkish Liberation War.
Shared experience, or about martenitsas and their interpretation in the Rousse Regional Museum of History
The active work with martenitsas as cultural heritage in the Rousse Regional Museum of History was prompted by a donation received in the early 2007. It contained over 100 martenitsas collected by Mrs. Marianka De Montis in the run of 50 years in France where she lived. Before we received it, her collection was exhibited in the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum in Sofia (Karamihova 2005:85). We exhibited the donation on occasion of 1 March (2007) in the marble room of Zahari Stoyanov House Museum. Three years later, Mrs. De Montis funded a showcase where we could exhibit the donation. In the years that followed, she sent us the martenitsas that had remained in her place, and the collection grew to 324 pieces. Under a decision of the Collection Commission of the museum, the martenitsas were registered in the main collection of the Ethnography Department. The reason for that decision was that they functioned as a ritual element related to 1 March that is illustrative of the way a traditional practice develops today. Another reason was that most of the Bulgarians seem to undervalue their significance, so there is a risk of losing them for science and forgetting about them as evidences of the 20th century cultural life.
The History Museum in Rousse keeps a martenitsa showcase, and the exhibition in it is renewed for 1 March every year. The core of nearly every exhibition has objects from Mrs. De Montis’s collection. Its promotion aroused the local community’s interest, and the consequence was numerous donations that added to our collections martenitsas and greeting cards from different periods. Using objects from our own collections as well as visiting exhibitions, we present the martenitsa collection and focus visitor’s attention to different aspects of the folklore concepts related to that feast. Parallel to the traditional themes, the collection is also used to discuss some museology issues. The exhibition ‘Collections and Collectors’ certainly shows the martenitsa collection of the Ethnography Department collection to its audiences, but along with that the poster text comments on the role museum collections play in documenting different time slices, events, and community mind-sets. Moreover, the posters contain comments on the museum workers’ role in decoding and revealing the time-related specificities of the objects and finding adequate ways to share what they have learned. The exhibition theme on occasion of 1 March 2016 was martenitsas and migrants around the world, which linked the traditional practices to the new social processes. The 2019 exhibition showed martenitsas from the socialist era, and it resulted in a research on the matter that produced a publication in Volume XXII of The Proceedings of RMH – Rousse. It unfolds the theme of the socialist period (Тодорова 2020: 139–152). That was the research inauguration of the topic of this developing living tradition. In 2020, we exchanged visiting exhibitions with Teohari Antonescu Museum in Giurgiu. Our Romanian colleagues offered their visitors the possibility to see the Bulgarian martenitsas and the related practices, while their Romanian counterparts were guests in our showcase. That cultural exchange has been resumed, and now, in 2022, the two museums exchanged objects once again. An exhibition of 1 March greeting cards was presented on 1 March 2021, in which we showed the beginning and the development of the 20th century cultural practices related to them.
Several workshops were organised and a number of talks were given over the last ten year, even though they were not on regular basis. In most of the cases, they were requested by the leaders of formal and informal children’s groups. The experiment called ‘Make a Mammoth Martenitsa’ was very successful. Several sessions were made in two days in the temporary exhibition room of the newly opened Ecomuseum. The occasion was 1 March, and the goal was to make an entertaining interactive session, after which the children would get an amulet symbolising the Ecomuseum, and that experience would promote RMH-Rousse’s new site.
The ‘Plant Your Martenitsa’ workshop, in the Ecomuseum again, was also found very interesting. The main material of which martenitsas were made was handmade paper with flower seeds in it. The children could cut out paper silhouettes of mammoths, cormorants, owls and pelicans. Later, those martenitsas could be planted in pots or straight in the garden, so that beautiful flowers could start growing. That experiment showed good collaboration between different museum departments. It proved that combining different types of heritage was a promising innovative practice breaking the stereotype work models in the martenitsa workshops.
In the context of the topic of modern museum interpretation of martenitsas, the approach to traditional heritage outlines the main trends: exhibitions present 19th-early 20th century folklore versions; certainly, martenitsa workshops are made and they are targeted mainly to the audience of children, yet the designs produced there are again based on the traditional versions. Although defined by our society as one of our national identity markers, the modern martenitsas do not seem to be sufficiently adequate museum objects for the museum professionals. There is unconquered inertia generated by the legacy of the socialist period regarding museum interpretations and representations; focused very much on authenticity, they ignore modern martenitsa forms, and the exhibitions show only (traditional) martenitsa designs produced at the workshops.
The celebration practices related to martenitsas are a living tradition that has found its place in the constantly changing community and cultural life and offers opportunities for new interpretations and updated museum policies as well as for research work. Modern field studies need to be carried out in order to register the new festive practices related to 1 March that emerged and developed in the 20th century. That will result in preserving the memory about them, and to the possibility to interpret and present them in research context and in museum spaces.
In the case of the martenitsa, which is an emanation of the rituality related to 1 March, the knowledge about Baba Marta and the colour symbolism is a manifestation of the need for museums to present to their audiences not only “authentic” martenitsa designs, but also, whenever possible, to show the natural dynamics of this form of living heritage. That will allow the exhibitions to include the urban festivity forms related to 1 March in the period between the two world wars as well as the multitude of forms that gave a new life to the martenitsas in the socialist period. Last but not least for us are the museum transformations of artefacts: their presence on digital website catalogues and virtual exhibitions will, we believe, be a reality pretty soon.
The project implemented by the Rousse Regional Museum of History – ‘Martenitsas and Modern Practices Related to 1 March: Digitalisation and Sharing’, under the Cultural Heritage Program of the National Culture Fund – can be given as an example of a successful beginning. Numerous activities were performed when the project was in progress. Thirty interviews were recorded in the course of the field survey; the participants were representatives of various communities: kindergarten and schoolteachers; community cultural centre secretaries and librarians; amateur artists; women, who had performed the role of Baba Marta in kindergartens and schools; martenitsa artists and vendors as well as martenitsa users. The collecting activity brought to the main museum collection 297 martenitsas and 75 1 March greeting cards. The field survey respondents presented 76 electronic images of events related to 1 March for the Ethnography Department archives. The project outputs include a virtually accessible bilingual Catalogue of Martenitsas and 1 March Greeting Cards from the collection of the Ethnography Department of the Rousse Regional Museum of History, which shows 132 objects. The Catalogue includes four more sections:
– The present research text;
– Audio stories: sound files of records made during the field survey. They give users an opportunity to hear our respondents’ recollections on the topic of martenitsas and 1 March practices from the perspective of various roles related to that topic;
– Verbal folklore: tales, proverbs and sayings, beliefs and descriptions of ritual practices recorded by our folklorists and ethnographers related to the traditional beliefs about Baba Marta, the martenitsas and their function in the pre-modern society.
– Copyrighted poems and fiction texts: works by Bulgarian poets and writers interpreting the theme of Baba Marta and martenitsas.
Another project output includes four short videos of craft artists from the Danube Association of Folk Crafts and professionals from the museum in Rousse demonstrating modern martenitsa hand-making techniques. They were uploaded on the YouTube channel of RMH-Rousse; the virtual Catalogue of Martenitsas and 1 March Greeting Cards also has a link to the videos.
Another product of the project was the 1 March Feasts mobile exhibition in Prince Alexander I Hall of the History Museum in Rousse; the exhibition was opened on 1 March 2022. It had 11 bilingual posters (in Bulgarian and in English). The collection of martenitsas and 1 March greeting cards of the Rousse Regional Museum of History and other objects related to this topic were on display in the showcases. The curators’ idea was to use that museum form to present the development and the modern cultural practices related to 1 March, and to show the diversity of martenitsa and 1 March greeting card designs, techniques and materials over the last century. The results of the field survey and the collecting work under the project could also be seen in the exhibition. The exhibition multimedia that was running showed the four videos illustrating martenitsa-making techniques.
When interpreted as a complete text, all project components present a multilayer picture of the 1 March tradition and visualise the processes of its transformation from the pre-modern culture to its current state. We do hope that the materials published in the virtual catalogue will be useful for museum and research institute professionals, teachers, community cultural centre activists and for all interested in this topic.
We believe that the survey and the presentation of the existing practices related to 1st March would certainly increase their cultural value for the society. Because the very presence in the museum space valorises every object chosen to be displayed and interpreted. Therefore, the choices we make in our work with cultural heritage are a big responsibility before the society. The transmission of cultural memory and expert knowledge as well as the interpretations of the living tradition related to 1st March through employing state-of-the-art museology methods will be beneficial to the better understanding and awareness of that cultural heritage.
https://www.facebook.com/museumruse/photos/a.141461815907170/477613225625359 (12.06.21); https://www.facebook.com/museumruse/photos/a.806010932785585/806011022785576(12.06.21)
 The colleagues from Giurgiu, in turn, opened an exhibition called ‘With the Martenitsa Colours’ in which they showed traditional towels with red embroidery on white fabric.
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