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Bulgarian children in Ukraine welcome spring with embroidered martenitsas

The Bulgarian children make the symbol of the coming spring- the red and white martenitsas with great desire and diligence. The tradition to give each other beautifully crafted health amulets on the first day of March is alive among the Bulgarians, no matter in which corner of the world they are.

Each spring the children from “Svetlina” weekend school in the Ukrainian town of Zaporizhia eagerly prepare for their favourite Baba Marta Day.

In the past four years the children have been making traditional Martenitsas in various shapes-balls, tassels, anthropomorphic figures of Pizho (the male doll which is predominantly in white) and Penda (the female doll made in red color), Svetlana Balueva who teaches fine arts and needlework told Radio Bulgaria. I noticed that children as a whole are not that interested in needlework. That is why I wanted to find a way to grab their attention. I was offered plenty of patterns in the biggest Facebook group dealing with embroidery. I printed them and showed them to the children. They chose which patterns to turn into martenitsas. We cleared all details and talked about the symbolism and the peculiarities of the Bulgarian embroidery (shevitsa).

The wonderful martenitsas (small adornments made of red and white yarn) embroidered by the children from Zaporizhia will decorate their classroom and every child will have the opportunity to tell others what does its martenitsa symbolize and how it was made. The authors of the most beautiful handworks will receive prizes- embroidery kits, thread, candies and other sweets.

Besides, I asked people who have traditional Bulgarian shirts and embroidered towels to bring them as well. We will include them in the exhibition and compare them with the Ukrainian items. The shirts bear their own symbolism and one of the women who embroidered them will tell interesting details. Earlier, we talked with the children about the Bulgarian folklore costumes and their variety. I also make dolls. I even made figures with male and female folk costumes and showed them to the pupils, Svetlanna Balueva says.


The Bulgarian weekend school Svetlina in the town of Zaporizhia was established in 2015. Ivan Petrovich Angelov is the founder and the principal of the school. Currently, a total of 132 children study at this school. The Republic of Bulgaria provides opportunity for free-of-charge studies in Bulgarian universities and between 2015 and 2019, 49 young people became students in Bulgaria.

Parents take active part in all school activities and join their children in some studies, which facilitates the educational process. Thus, pupils feel more confident in class and do their homework easier. More from Svetlana Balueva:


There is Bulgarian community in Zaporizhia, but children rarely attend their meeting. However, in our school children and parents learn the language together and communicate on a regular basis. We not only mark the Bulgarian holidays, but also talk about them and learn how to understand them, because Ukrainian culture has strong influence on us, Svetlana Balueva notes. The roots of our ancestors make children feel the connection with theirfirst home and stay connected with it. Yes, we are Ukrainian nationals, but we have Ukrainian and Bulgarian blood running through our veins and we must never forget that.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: private loibrary

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