You can tell spring is coming when you see the first snowdrops, but people living in big cities often tend to miss this moment. This is where the old ladies selling small bunches of snowdrops picked from their own gardens come in handy. They will usually ask for less than a dollar for the whole bunch, supporting their families with the money.
March 1 is the date where every Bulgarian ties red-and-white threads called martenitsa around the wrists of their loved ones as part of a ritual of blessing for good luck, health and wellbeing. Remember that martenitsa should be received as a gift, so buy threads for your friends but not for yourself. While you are tying the martenitsa, the receiver can also make a wish. According to the tradition, all the martenitsas should be removed when you see the first spring stork in the sky.
The day dedicated to Saint Theodore is a movable holiday usually celebrated in March when horse races are held around the country.
Choose a route through one of Bulgaria’s national parks or if you are based in Sofia, hike up the nearby Vitosha Mountain located just a 30-minute drive out of the city center. The beautiful Iskar River Gorge, accessible in less than 30 minutes by train, is another option for those who are not into serious climbing. Make sure you have comfortable mountain shoes as the trails might be muddy or slippery.
If you have arrived in Bulgaria at the end of February or the beginning of March, chances are it will be snowy in most parts of the country, except for southwestern Bulgaria. This part of the country is closer to the Mediterranean coast of Greece and is the first to say goodbye to the snow. The temperatures are always higher and it’s a mostly sunny destination. One of the best wine regions in the country, Melnik, is located there, so you can combine the good weather with a walk among the vineyards and wine-tasting sessions in several wineries there. Stop at the town of Melnik, the smallest in Bulgaria, to marvel at the stunning Melnik Earth Pyramids hanging above the town.
Bulgaria is a small country and it’s not hard to make a full circle around it in less than a week (more if you want to travel at a slower pace). Spring is the perfect season for a road trip in Bulgaria, with all the green plains and fields in blossom you will see on the way. If you want to see the true image of the country, include a few villages in your route.
While other cultures have a designated Mother’s Day, Bulgarians celebrate all women on March 8. This is the day when every man you will see in the street will be holding flowers for his mother, wife or daughter.