Hundreds of Romanian people donned their finest genuine bearskin and red tassels as they grunted and swayed their way through a bizarre parade as part of a traditional New Year’s celebration.
Known as the ‘bear dance’, people swayed to the rhythm of drums and melodies of pan flutes through the streets of Comanesti, eastern Romania, on Sunday.
According to folklore, the ritual originated in pre-Christian times when villagers would wear animal furs and colored costumes, moving from house to house to ward off evil spirits as they entered the new year.
“I’ve been doing the bear dance for four years, and for me it means a great deal,” said a 17-year-old participant, Roxana Stan, who got her costume from her father.
“It is very heavy, but I’ve got used to it. I already can’t feel its weight anymore,” she added.
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