'Dancing bears' fill Romanian streets in wild holiday tradition

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'Dancing bears' fill Romanian streets in wild holiday tradition
A woman wearing bear skin poses on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
A child wearing a bear skin is pictured on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: People with bear costumes are seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: A bear costume worn performer is seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People wearing bear skins dance on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
People wearing bear skins dance on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: People with bear costumes are seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: A bear costume worn performer dances during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: A bear costume worn performer is seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: People with bear costumes are seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: People with bear costumes are seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People wearing bear skins dance on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A child wearing a bear skin is pictured on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Children wearing bear skins dance on the streets of Comanesti city on December 30, 2015 during a parade to drive away evil spirits of the past year. From Christmas Eve until after New Year and the Romanians bring to life the various rituals, which often include costumes and masks evoking animals, such as bears, horses or goats. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
VATRA DORNEI, ROMANIA - DECEMBER 29: People with bear costumes are seen during a traditional dance festival in Vatra Dornei, Romania, on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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From Christmas Eve until after the New Year, Romanians bring to life various rituals which often include costumes and masks evoking animals such as bears, horses or goats.

In pre-Christian rural traditions, these dancers wore colored costumes or animal furs and toured from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil.

Today, the tradition has moved to Romania's cities too, where dancers travel to perform the ritual for money.

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