The Trotus Valley may not be mentioned in Romania’s travel books. It may not be considered a touristic jewelery. It may not shine like the rest of Romania. However, some people know that this valley hides one of the most specific traditions of all times. A unique thing in the world.
A space where the clock stopped ticking in terms of traditions. Every winter, these people go back to their roots. They celebrate nature in a way that few people understand.
A tradition that shows respect for the gift of nature. And that somehow makes you wonder: “How come we became so human, after all? Was there such time?”
Yes. It was. It still is.
The story begins with a river, mountains and a small depression. And we go hundreds of years ago to understant it.
When there was only nature, animal and a little human, it was the men who was the animal’s “pet”. Years ago, people believed in the great power that animals had. The bear, for instance, was considered to have curative power, to bring fortune, health and wealthiness.
So each year, just before New Year’s Eve, there was this man that trained a bear and would go inside each house. The bear would have brought good-fortune and he was thought to have curative powers. People would let themselves stepped by the bear in order to recover from disease.
It was not just a simple action. It was a complete ritual, following some strict rules, conjurations and movements.
Nowadays, people from this valley still praise their simbol, an inheritance from the geto-dacians, a pre-Christian population in Romania.
The ritual is considered to purify and fertilize the soil in the new year.
About 20 or more people wearing masks start swinging in a circle, conducted by a so called tamer. They do it on the rhythm of specific drums, made and played by the locals. The tamer sings to them. The profound lyrics are full of significance and explain how things evolved. How the bear was took out of the forest, how he grew up and their movements describe the exact action.
His life, with the good and the bad represents the succession of the seasons. His death and resurection are the most intense part of the ritual and, metaphorically, this is the moment when the bear defeated the winter, heralding spring.
The bear masks are made of natural fur, including the head and only few people are able to prepare them in order to be worn.
By the end of the ritual, each person embodying a bear stars moving indepently, as a sign of the free life in nature that they are ready to embrace.
The bears are followed by people wearing different masks, embodying bizzare and mythological creatures. This only shows how creative this people are and how they found ways to adapt the contemporany to the legend.
According to the inhabitans, this particular ritual will never fade, nor disapper. It is not just a tradition. Is something that they have in their blood.