The ancient legend of the freedom amulet

martenitsa-Pierre-EthierThere is an ancient legend explaining how the tradition of creating and wearing ancient amulet martenitsa was born. Khan Kubrat’s (632–665) five sons went hunting accompanied by their sister Huba. When they reached the Danube river they saw a silver stag. Mesmerized, the men did not dare shoot at it. The stag crossed over to the opposite bank of the river revealing a ford. A pigeon flew bringing them bad tidings. Their father, the founder of Ancient Great Bulgaria was on his deathbed. In his last hours Kubrat’s last will  to his offsprings ( Bayan, Kotrag, Asparouh, Kuber and Altsek ) was to keep the union between the different Bulgarian tribes. His sons vowed to love and defend United Bulgaria.

Soon after their father’s death, the Khazars invaded the land. The Khazar’s Khan Ashina conquered the capital Phanagoria and Huba, Kubrat’s daughter, was captured by Ashina. Hoping to give her brothers a chance to freedom, Huba attempted suicide but was saved by the guards. Her Boyan brothers kept his vows and stayed with his sister acknowledging  the Khazars about their superior power.  Kotrag went northwards, to the River Volga, while Asparouh, Kuber and Altsek went south to search for a new land without oppressors.

The brothers who left secretly arranged with Huba and Bayan to send word by a golden thread tied to the leg of a falcon  if they were to find a free land. One day a falcon sent by Asparouh flew into Huba’s room and she and Bayan quickly started plotting their escape. While they were looking for a place to cross the Danube River, Khazar pursuers spotted them and rushed toward them. Trying to find a ford, Huba let the falcon free. She tied a white thread to its leg and handed it to her brother. Just as the bird was about to take off, an enemy arrow hit Bayan and his blood stained the white thread. The falcon with red and white thread was carrying a message leading their road to freedom.

While Huba and Bayan managed to reach the newly discovered by Asparouh great land(present day Bulgaria), they were both mortally wounded. Asparouh was devastated and  rushed toward his dying brother and sister but he could not save them. After their death the Khan Asparouh ( The Khan of Bulgaria) decorated his solders with amulets of white and blood red  yarn to always remind the price to unity and freedom. This happened around the first of March and started a new tradition in Bulgaria that survived throughout the centuries. On the first of March people in Bulgaria wear white and red amulets to signify their freedom and prosperity.

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