In Romania’s northeastern town of Comanesti, the centuries-old Dancing Bear Festival draws crowds of tourists every December as hundreds of people, clad in bear costumes, dance around Christmas to fend off evil spirits.
In the northeastern town of Comanesti, Romania, the customs of donning bear skins and dancing to fend off evil spirits have evolved into the annual Dancing Bear Festival, which takes place every December. This tradition has attracted tourists from around the world.
The festival, featuring people of all ages dressed in bear costumes, culminates on Dec. 30 in Comanesti, with bear-clad dancers descending on the town for the grand finale. This festive event is marked by the deafening beat of drums as the bear-clad dancers roam the villages and towns.
Local residents believe that the custom dates back to the pre-Christianity era when people thought that wild animals could ward off misfortune or danger. It is seen as a tradition to bring good luck and wishes for a Happy New Year as ‘bears’ visit homes.
Preservation and Care
The festival participants take great care in preserving the bear skins used as costumes, which have been passed down for generations. Each costume, including the head and claws, can weigh up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds), with some of the most expensive bear skins costing around 2,000 euros ($2,200).