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Xmas6

Xmas6

A Romanian child wearing a real bear skin coming from the Bacau region (some 340 km northeast from Bucharest) performs the bears' dance, an ancient tradition before Christmas celebration, in Bucharest, December 23, 2012. Such ceremonies are still popular in the Balkans and Romania, especially during the days from Christmas Eve to Epiphany. Originally, they were ceremonies in connection with periodic return of the dead, with people wearing all sorts of masks and behaving like animals such as horses, goats or bears. It is believed that bears banish demons from houses and farmyards and wish a happy year.

DANIEL MIHAILESCU