How To Make A Bulgarian Martenitsa Bracelet – The Kumihimo Technique

If you have been following our journey, we have taken a giant step to becoming location independent. We started our journey in the beautiful Bulgaria, before leaving I sat and did research into the culture, crafts and traditions. I was struck with one particular one, the martenitsa bracelet. This bracelet is a tradition in Bulgaria that occurs around the month of March.

The 1st of March sparks the traditional holiday of Baba Marta, this translates to Grandma Marta in English.  The root of Marta (mart) is the word for March in Bulgarian. The traditional holiday is the celebration of saying adieu to winter and the welcoming of spring. Woven and entwined red and white yard are made into bracelets that are worn on the wrist during the month of March. The bracelet is then taken off and tied to a tree only when a tree is blooming.

The bracelet is then taken off and tied to a tree only when a tree is blooming. The white is a symbol of happiness, strength and purity. while the red symbolises health, blood, conception and fertility. The most typical Martenitsa is 2 small wool dolls, one white usually the male and the female red. You can distinguish them apart as the female will more often than not have a skirt like bottom. They are called Pizho and Penda, they are also made from twine, wool and thread. The dolls are also incorporated into bracelets and necklaces. They have been made into many forms such as pom-poms, tassels, made from leather and also wood.  If you are given a Martenitsa it is to be worn on the hand around the wrist or pinned onto your clothes.

Here is an easy way to make your own martenitsa bracelet.

Equipment And Materials

  • Yarn – I got a variety pack with all different colours from Amazon for £6.99 for 100.
  • Cardboard
  • Mug/ Cup
  • Scissors
  • Pen and Ruler

Method

  • Start by cutting 7 strips of yarn roughly 30-40 cm long. You can mix up the colours to create different patterns there isn’t a set way to do it.
  • Take your cardboard and draw a circle using a mug or cup with your pen.
  • Cut this circle out.
  • Using the ruler and pencil draw a line down the centre, then again on the horizontal and then twice on the diagonal to create 8 sections.

  • Cut 1.5 cm up the lines to create a groove, cut off the edges to make a slight curve around the edge to create a petal-like shape. Create a hole in the centre with the end of your pen.
  • Collect together the 7 strands and push through the hole, pull 5cm through and tie a knot.
  • Spread out the strands into the different grooves on the cardboard. You will notice that you have 1 empty groove.

  • As you look at your cardboard, have your empty groove call it 0, at point 0 wants to be at the bottom.
  • Move the strand from point 3 to 0, rotate your cardboard piece until the empty groove is back down at the bottom.

  • Keep moving the 3 strand to the empty groove working in a clockwise direction.

I have enjoyed making these so much as I find them therapeutic and relaxing. These are great to make with your kids or part of a task at schools or after school clubs. I would love to know the colour combinations you have made with this technique in the comments below 🙂

These are the ones I had made and below are the ones I saw around Plovdiv tied to the trees.

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