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The Bear Dance is an old Romanian New Year’s tradition, practised mostly in the Moldova area. This tradition is on the waiting list to be registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural World Heritage List, which would represent a recognition of this important tradition for Romania.
The bear dance is an old custom. The origin of the dance comes from the custom of an Indo-European people who strongly believed that bears were sacred animals. The tradition of dancing with the bear comes more precisely from among the Roma people who migrated from India to this area. They used to go to people’s doors with a bear cub. The Roma made the bear walk on the backs of people suffering from various health problems to cure their pain. When the bears got old, they were trained to dance in people’s yards in exchange for money. Over time, this custom became a New Year tradition. The New Year groups that “go with the bear” are noisy. Many people participate in them. Masked bears are among the most common characters in these gangs. They are not absent in any part of the country from holiday rituals.
People masquerading as bears on New Year dress up in real bear fur and red tassels or sheepskin, an ugly mask and large bells hanging from their belts. The reason why they do this dance is to scare the evil spirits to the beat of the drums, dancing chaotically and making sudden movements. The gangs usually go out on the road, starting from the evening of December 31 and continuing until the next day until January 1.
The Calusarilor game is one of the oldest and most interesting Romanian games. Some specialists from the communist period have traced its origin, which can be traced back to our Dacian ancestors.
Traditionally, the dance takes place in the week before Pentecost and has a healing purpose. The Descent of the Holy Spirit is celebrated on Pentecost, but the Romanians associated this holiday with magical meanings, respectively, on Pentecost in the past Rozalia, the festival of roses, was celebrated.
The Christmas carol and the custom of caroling are one of the emblematic and representative elements of the spiritual treasure of the Romanian people and have contributed throughout its history to the cultivation of the feeling of spiritual unity, language and nation.
The national repertoire of the customs of the winter holidays cycle combines artistic creations of different origins over time. During the winter holidays, there are events related to the Christian Church holidays, Christmas, New Year and Epiphany, and include carols, the ploughman’s greeting, star songs, the folk theater, the Sorcova greeting, the puppet theater, masked dances, etc.
Like the period, the caroling begins on Christmas Eve and continues until Epiphany Day. Those who participate in this custom are children, boys, men up to a certain age (rarely, women), organized in compact groups and sometimes accompanied by small musical instruments.
Doina is a species of popular literature that belongs to the lyrical genre and in which the author expresses his thoughts, feelings and convictions regarding certain problems of life, in relation to nature and time, and in relation to himself.
Doina is a lyrical creation that can be vocal or instrumental.
Through doina, the author directly expresses his feelings of longing, love, sadness, hatred, alienation or revolt.
Doines are lyrical creations, and the themes found in their verses are: longing, love for nature, prayer to God for pain relief, melancholy, etc. In other words, sadness, inner fire, melancholy and longing were sung through doine.
Fecioreasca si Calusarii
Romanian lad’s dance represents a value for intangible heritage. After Calus, Doina, Horezu pottery and the custom of caroling by men in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, the “ LAD’S DANCE” entered the UNESCO heritage.
Feciorescu is a valuable, but also special dance. First of all, its diversity, then the message: it is an initiatory game; when it starts at the village choir, or as you want to call it, at the mushroom, in Maramures and Oas, the boys gather and start playing Feciorescul. They bring musicians whom they pay and start playing, when the girls also gather. Normally, there is a certain sympathy between boys and girls and they start playing as a couple. This game is of many kinds. Romania was present at the UNESCO session with the “Lads of Ticus”, where the “Lad’s dance” was validated as a heritage element. It was named by UNESCO “Lad’s dance”.
Horezu is a town situated in the north of Valcea County, Romania and it is considered one of the most interesting places in Romania when it comes to the traditional pottery techniques.
The Horezu pottery is the most valued handcraft in the region. In 2015, Horezu pottery techniques entered the UNESCO immaterial heritage list. The craftsmen nowadays are using the same techniques and materials as old times.
In Romania, the potter has a very special role as it is considered sent by God as he gives life to clay. Men and women have roles in making the pottery following a traditional process. The clay is taken from Ulmet hill which is a place near Horezu. The clay is considered to have special properties. In order to prepare the colours for decorating the ceramics objects, the potters bring kaolin from Harghita region. The colours are prepared using local ingredients based on special recipes.
In 2017, the tradition of Martisor was included on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list. Martisorul has received various meanings up to now, from the harbinger of spring to the symbol of the rebirth of nature in the spring, on March 1. The Martisor is an object attached to a white and red string and is generally given to girls on March 1st. They wear it throughout the month of March.
The two colours have origins with different meanings. One of them says that red signifies the vitality of the woman, and white the wisdom of the man. It results that the string of the Martișor expresses the interweaving of the two entities.