Grandma March Day - children creative workshops

North Macedonia
Vasilka Dimitrovska
Community engagement
Intangible, Natural
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The “Grandma March Day” is a traditional manifestation created by HAEMUS in 2013/2014 to support the successful multinational UNESCO application in order to celebrate the custom “Martinki”. During the celebration, followed by positive wishes, people give as present red and white amulets to their beloved ones. We took a vow (signing the legal support too) that morally and ethically we will keep the knowledge on tradition and multiculturalism safeguarding the cultural practices associated with the 1st of March. The real storytellers are people who are practicing this custom, and as an organization, HAEMUS is providing them with a place and space where they tell their own stories, transmit and share their experiences and feel like home.

Since 2013, the cultural practices associated with the 1st of March were proposed to be protected as intangible cultural heritage with the multinational application to UNESCO submitted by North Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. On this day typical red and white tassels, pom-poms or knit (braided) bracelets are exchanged and they are worn pinned on clothing or tied on the wrist. The hand-made amulets are known by many names as Martinki (Мартинки) in Macedonia, Mártenitsa (Мартеница) in Bulgaria, Mărţişor in Romania and Moldova. They are associated with the beginning of spring, when these small artifacts made of the red and white woolen thread containing a message with good and positive feelings and expectations, is given to the beloved ones. People wear them until nature starts to bloom and then hang them on trees. As an organization deeply engaged in Balkan heritage, we didn’t hesitate much when we got a request by both the Cultural Heritage Protection Office and the Institute of folklore, to support the UNESCO application as a legal safe guardian. For this purpose, at the beginning of 2014, we created the “Grandma March Day”, which become a traditional manifestation in order to protect, educate and popularize this custom. In 2016 we initiated the cross-border partnership with our colleagues from Bulgaria and Romania with the main aim to promote our common heritage. Within this project, we designed the series of travel events comprised of many elements and shaped as an exhibition, to show the unique, but still a multinational character of these cultural practices. A lot of these elements, like the multilingual educative panels and original amulets from three countries, stayed in our archive, which we exhibit during the subsequent events we organize, shaped with a lot of natural elements like trees and flowers and supplemented with a bazaar of handmade martinki and creative workshops for children, as an added social interactive value. With time, our manifestation grew up from several hundred people to more than 10 000 visitors. This gives us an opportunity to start a conversation with most of them and make an audio or video recording, while paying attention to everybody’s memory and inspiring communities regardless of their nationality, religion, gender or age, to talk about their own memories and experiences. We also encourage the visitors with the first-hand experience of the heritage, by enabling them to make martinki by themselves. Our goals to preserve, preserve and promote this cultural heritage are especially achieved through special workshops with a focus on children of pre-school and school-age, carefully created and designed to help them visualize and express the knowledge of tradition and multiculturalism. We are very proud that we preserved a tradition from oblivion. Unlike other countries like Romania, Moldavia, and Bulgaria where martinki are national pride, this tradition was almost dying in Macedonia and was practiced only by elderly people within some families or communities. Now we take a step further, to show that this small amulet made of red and white woven thread, bringing joy and happiness to everybody on the 1st of March, deserves to be wider promoted in all of its shapes and variations, as an important part of the European common history and heritage.

European Dimension

It is the story where people by their own choice, regardless of nationality, religion, gender or age, through practice, large social inclusion and interactive approach, educate, share and transmit the European Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Legal body/representative

HAEMUS - Center for Scientific Research and Promotion of Culture, Skopje

Vasilka Dimitrovska, president of HAEMUS - Center for Scientific Research and Promotion of Culture, Skopje

Description of the project

The project will be realized within a few consecutive stages. The first stage will be managing of human resources from the HAEMUS team, who will be in charge of communication with artists, graphic designers, translators, video production and printing companies in order to prepare the products related to the custom of “Martinki”: a coloring book for preschool children, educative book in three languages for school children, and an educative video in four languages. We intend to join the promotion of this project, which will be in a form of series of “Children creative ‘Martinki’ workshops”, within our traditional manifestation “The Grandma March Day”, which we organize every year around 1st of March and which has a huge attendance, especially by preschool children and youngster. We will use our financial resources for preparation and communication of the HAEMUS team with artisans, procurement of materials for making of martinki, providing space and manifestation management, as well as for cooperation with a marketing agency for the promotion of the event in printed, Internet and/or mainstream media and organization of TV interviews. Then we intend to publish info about the manifestation on our social media, as well as to promote the project through the official HAEMUS website and other social networks. The creation of photo, video and printed promotion material is also within our financial contribution. Afterward, all of the material created within this project will be available to the general public, in accordance with the Open Educational Resources policy of UNESCO.

Legacy of the project

The aim of this project is to engage the local community, regardless of their age, sex, and national and religious affiliation, that still practices the Martinki custom, or used to practice it in the past. The focus is set on the preschool children in order to develop an intercultural dialogue by raising the awareness of cultural and language differences, and yet, at the same time about customs and tradition that is common to the various ethnicities and communities across the Balkans. Through visualization and interactive approach, the young population will obtain firsthand experience of the processes that make this beautiful custom. Also, the custom itself carries a spirit of respect, solidarity, and love towards the other, so youngsters, as well as people of all ages, are encouraged to communicate and interact in a respectful manner.

Budget breakdown

The financial construction of the project “Grandma March Day” would be around 9.500 euros. We would ask as a grant 7.500 euros, in order to be able to fulfill our aims. This is mostly related to the direct coast of graphic design, translating and printing: the coloring book in 1000 copies for pre-school children in Macedonian and English language; multilingual educative book each in 1000 copies in Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish language for school children and production of 7-10 minute educative video about the custom “Martinki” with translation in 4 languages (Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish and English). Our contribution of 2.000 euro in the project consists of financial support for our team of 4 people, as well as costs related to management, organization, PR agency, providing the space and photo/video equipment, toward the final event where the products will be promoted.

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