- Posted January 3, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Dancing Bears Welcome the New Year in Romania
On the last day of each year throughout rural Romania, groups of local men gather to go house to house performing centuries-old skits, songs and poems. These performances send out the old year and welcome in what they hope will be a prosperous new year. The groups tend to be all male and generally follow one of several traditional forms. The skits may include a bear, deer, a goat, or a horse costume and include a traditional poem and often some live music. Other groups may perform a plugosorul, or "little plough" skit which is meant to help ring in a good agricultural year. Still other groups perform a dance in colorful strips of cloth or reflective plastic.
Groups gather in the early morning light in front of the local city hall. The mayor reviews each performance and authorizes the group to perform in his "comuna" a group of villages. Groups come from different surrounding villages and rivalries are strong. Minor scuffles are not uncommon, so each group starts in a different area.
The groups move house to house asking to be received. Each home that receives a group is expected to provide a bit to eat and drink and a token payment equivalent to a dollar or so per performer. Groups perform for two days and may cover several villages and many kilometers. As a deep economic funk and staggering unemployment continues to envelop Romania, and particularly rural Moldovan Romania where this film was taken, the costumes are becoming less traditional and more tattered. The history and meaning of the skits, poems and dances are also gradually being lost.