Carpe Diem Haiku *Little New Year (Koshōgatsu)*

The festival of Little New Year (Koshōgatsu) is celebrated on the first full moon of the New Year, and traditionally these dates would occur some time between the end of January till the middle of February. However, when the government adopted the Gregorian calendar, Shōgatsu (Great New Year) became associated with the first day of January, and Koshōgatsu fell on the 15th of January. The main events of Koshōgatsu are rituals and prayers for the good harvest, and preparation of the traditional meal – rice porridge with azuki red beans. The Little New Year is called also Onnashōgatsu (New Year of Woman) thus the red color of the porridge symbolizes femininity, fertility and a healthy life.

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Little New Year
sharing my bowl of red porridge
with the full moon

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Happy Grandma March Day!

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“Chestita Baba Marta!” (Bulgarian: Честита Баба Марта! ) or “Happy Baba Marta!” is the greeting heard all across Bulgaria on the 1st of March every year as they celebrate Grandma March Day.

There’s much folklore about Grandma March Day and the character of Baba Marta herself. She is presented as a sister or a wife of the great long-horned beetle (January) and the small long-horned beetle (February). She is always dissatisfied with them because they are either drunk on wine, or they do some other harm . The old woman (bride) becomes angry, hence the weather breaks.

Martenitsa – usually in the form of a wrist band, woven by combining red and white colored threads, or as small dolls, called “Pizho and Penda” – are worn on that day and through March, until a stork or a bloomed tree is seen, symbolizing warmer weather and well being. The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring in Bulgaria and life in general. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, thus some ethnologists have proposed that, in its very origins, the custom might have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and of the sorrow and happiness in human life.

Not being Bulgarian, I still really enjoy this tradition and wish that spring will bring along everything one’ s heart is longing for! /