The Bear Dance… or Bucky Badger Visits Romania

I didn’t take the above video, but if you add a couple inches of snow you’ll have exactly the scene that surprised us yesterday morning.

My first thought was honestly that somehow the UW Marching Band had decided Bucharest didn’t have enough of the good ol’ Bucky Badger spirit here and so made a special trip to spread the cheer.

My second thought was that I had been transported into the movie “Ee Taow” during the whole “spirit dance” thing.  Other than the snow and the slight change in costumes, it was remarkably similar.

Well, it turns out neither of my first impressions was quite on the mark.  The dance is a tradition that goes back more than 2000 years, to long before Christianity was in Romania.  I’m sure that now in Bucharest, the dance is continued simply for the cultural value, but when people were first doing this, it was believed to be a way to rid the village of evil spirits and so ensure a fresh and clean start for the new year.  At that time, it was even considered good luck if a real bear ever entered a person’s house.  (Well, I guess if you’re alive to tell the tale, that’s some pretty darn good luck, indeed!)

Anyhow, this is just one more example of how, when I start to get used to things here, something comes to remind me that I’m “not in Kansas anymore.”  🙂


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