A Springtime Celebration

Junii Brasovului is a special Romanian holiday designed to celebrate the Junii, who are young men from the district of Schei in Brasov, and whose traditions date back to over four hundred years ago.
A Springtime Celebration
Junii Brasovului. Photo by Ana A. Negru
In the past, the oldest area of Brasov- Scheii Brasovului, was occupied by Austro-Hungarians. Most of the inhabitants of Scheii Brasovului were merchants that wanted to go into the citadel to sell their products. Yet every time they went to do this they were taxed, which in turn made them resentful. The Junii (young men from Scheii) then decided that they didn’t want to pay the tax anymore and were consequently shot by the Austo-Hungarian guards who were guarding the gate. After similar incidents, the people of Scheii became so enraged that they revolted with the help of the Romanian army. To celebrate and remember the Junii, a Pageant is held every year on the first Sunday after the Orthodox Easter, consisting of a parade and traditional dancing. The parade begins in Unification Square, which is the historical center of Schei. Then, men dressed in traditional costumes, ride on horses through the town until they arrive in the Council Square, where each group is presented to the crowd. They are split up into seven different groups, which is said to come from the belief that God made the world in seven days. The first group is the Junii Tineri, which are the young, unmarried men. The second are the Junii Batrani: the older unmarried men. The next group: the Junii Curcani, are the Turkish youth. After them comes the Junii Dorobanti: the group of soldiers. Then the Junii Brasovechni: the Junii from the old city. The sixth group is the Junii Rosiori: the horsemen, and the last are the Junii Albiori: the whitish youth. All of the groups wear unique costumes, distinguishing themselves from each other. However, the young and old unmarried Junii wear the most common outfits. They are dressed in white pants, with black boots, along with a black hat and black tunic. Underneath the tunic they wear a long white undershirt that came down to their upper thighs. The other Junii often wear similar outfits with slight variations to distinguish themselves from the others. The most impressive outfit is worn by the leader of the ceremonies and shines brightly throughout the whole parade and is impossible to miss. The colors embroidered into the shirt are bright gold and red, and it is said that it is made out of 40,000 different spangles, weighing about 20 lbs. When the parade was being held I was imagining in my head a few horses coming down the road wearing traditional garb, and for it to last 10 minutes or so. Little did I know that amount of men on horseback would amount up to a small army. There were much more than I anticipated and the horses seemed enormous in size. Sometimes there were men in their 20’s and 30’s riding alongside a kid no more than 12 years old. It was a truly impressive sight to see all the different age groups, young and old, carrying out the traditions of their ancestors. After the parade, the Junii are followed to the Solomon’s Rocks, where each group will perform another ritual that involves dancing. After the dancing, the Junii will demonstrate their strength and ability by throwing and catching a baton, and a party with traditional dance then follows. It is important to be aware that the festival reflects more the traditions of the pagan times, and that it is an ancient festival, which celebrates spring and the beginning of new life. The event allowed the people of Brasov a peak into the past to remember their ancestors. The events gave more than just a flavor to a regular weekend in the city. It gave people a glimpse of traditional Romania and it allowed them to see the difference from where they’ve come, to where they are now. Text: Daniel Zmistowski Photo: Ana A. Negru

  • A springtime celebration
    A springtime celebration
Daniel Zmistowski
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