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The Junii Feast in Brasov, Romania

The Junii Feast in Brasov, Romania
On the first Sunday after Easter (which is this weekend), Brasov (our city) celebrates "Junii", (translated it would be 'The Feast of the Youth') the centrepiece of which is a colourful horseback parade the origins of which go back at least as far as the 18th century.

Seven groups of men from the old part of the city (called Schei) will ride from the mountains and travel around Brasov. Each group comes also from a different quarter in the Schei neighborhood. The costumes of each group differ through color and badges.

The leader of ceremonies wears a shirt adorned with 40000 colorful spangles, weighing 20 lbs.

The first group are the Junii Tineri (the younger unmarried men), the flags that this group carries has the image of the Saguna college on one side and a mounted June on the other side. The hats that they wear have a three colored band.

The second group are the Junii Batrani (the older younger married men), this group precedes the Junii Tineri who got married.

The Third group is the Junii Curcani (the Turkey youths), this group's flag holds the Mihai Viteazu's (the first king who united the three Romanian provinces) countenance. They are more recognizable with the fact that they wear black fur caps with a turkey feather.

The fourth group is the Junii Dorobanti (nation of soldiers); this group's flag holds the image of a mounted June and the bugler soldier, while the Junii themselves wear gray fur caps.

The fifth group is the Junii Brasovecheni (the older Brasovians or the Junii of the old city), the flag holds Al. I. Cuza's image (first modern Romanian ruler), and they wear black caps with a top.

The sixth group is the Junii Rosiori (the red young men or the horseman Junii), who wear a picked cap with a red tuft.

And the last group is the Junii Albiori (the young whites or whitish Junii), who wear white fur caps and have the same flag as the Junii Brasovecheni.

The uniqueness of the event comes mainly from the traditional costumes that they wear, some made around the 1730's.

The basic outfit consists of a special pair of trousers, boots, a long white linen shirt with the sleeves garnished with national motifs and a hat. Each group has their own variations on this. The horses are also highly decorated for this celebration, with the harnesses and saddles being draped in all sorts of traditional decorations.

The Romanian flag also plays a big part in the occasion. Traditional Romanian songs are sung and dances danced. Young men are then placed, one by one, in the middle of the dancers and throw the scepter in the air, while everyone runs for cover.

This custom is considered a kind of initiation ritual, when the boys are supposed to pass some tests of maturity and bravery.