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 A troupe of bears performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

A troupe of bears performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 A troupe of bears from Asău village performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

A troupe of bears from Asău village performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 Dumitru Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way single-file through Comăneşti town, stopping at private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Dumitru Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way single-file through Comăneşti town, stopping at private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 Locals dressed as masked gypsies exit the stage set up in central Comăneşti as part of the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. In the past, when the bear dance was a gypsy tradition, ghoulishly masked dancers would enter a household just before the dancing bears. The masked figures would carry flames and create bonfires to chase away the bad spirits of the previous year. Today, the bear dance is still preceded by a parade of masked figures who wear gypsy costumes: floor-sweeping pleated skirts, wigs with long braided pigtails topped with colorful headscarves and faces smeared with black soot or stove grease to feign the ‘black’ gypsies, characteristically darker-skinned than the fair-skinned ethnic Romanians. They carry long hollow pipes stuffed with gun powder. The sparks and loud bangs produced when the gunpowder is lit are said to scare away last year's bad spirits. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Locals dressed as masked gypsies exit the stage set up in central Comăneşti as part of the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. In the past, when the bear dance was a gypsy tradition, ghoulishly masked dancers would enter a household just before the dancing bears. The masked figures would carry flames and create bonfires to chase away the bad spirits of the previous year. Today, the bear dance is still preceded by a parade of masked figures who wear gypsy costumes: floor-sweeping pleated skirts, wigs with long braided pigtails topped with colorful headscarves and faces smeared with black soot or stove grease to feign the ‘black’ gypsies, characteristically darker-skinned than the fair-skinned ethnic Romanians. They carry long hollow pipes stuffed with gun powder. The sparks and loud bangs produced when the gunpowder is lit are said to scare away last year's bad spirits. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 A troupe of bears performs on a stage set up in central  Comăneşti for the town's annual Bear Parade and competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania. © Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi

A troupe of bears performs on a stage set up in central Comăneşti for the town's annual Bear Parade and competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania. © Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi

 Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages gather in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. Although in the minority, lady bears can be found in nearly every troupe. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages gather in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. Although in the minority, lady bears can be found in nearly every troupe. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages dance down the main street in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages dance down the main street in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 Dumitru Toloaca, the leader of a bear troupe from Laloaia village, marches through the alleys of Asău village. He is followed closely by his 'bear tamer' and troupe of bears, guiding them to private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Dumitru Toloaca, the leader of a bear troupe from Laloaia village, marches through the alleys of Asău village. He is followed closely by his 'bear tamer' and troupe of bears, guiding them to private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

 Toloaca's troupe piles into a van that will take them to the next village. In the days leading up to the New Year, troupes of bears dance their way into the night through a handful of towns and villages in the Trotuș Valley. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Toloaca's troupe piles into a van that will take them to the next village. In the days leading up to the New Year, troupes of bears dance their way into the night through a handful of towns and villages in the Trotuș Valley. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

 Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear in Toalaca's troupe, serves his fellow bears cubes pig fat, while his wife fills up glasses of homemade palinka liquor. The troupe has just finished performing at Apetroaie's home and is taking a rest before continuing to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear in Toalaca's troupe, serves his fellow bears cubes pig fat, while his wife fills up glasses of homemade palinka liquor. The troupe has just finished performing at Apetroaie's home and is taking a rest before continuing to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

 At the end of each night, bear skins hang from hooks on the ceiling of Tolaocă's front porch. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

At the end of each night, bear skins hang from hooks on the ceiling of Tolaocă's front porch. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

 Cătălin Apetroaie chats on his porch with a young bear and Gabriel Hanganu, the 'bear tamer.'  The troupe, led by Dumitru Toloaca, has just finished performing for Apetroaie's family and are resting before they continue on to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

Cătălin Apetroaie chats on his porch with a young bear and Gabriel Hanganu, the 'bear tamer.' The troupe, led by Dumitru Toloaca, has just finished performing for Apetroaie's family and are resting before they continue on to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

 The 'bear tamer,' Gabriel Hanganu, sneaks a kiss from his fiancée, Anca, who has been waiting for him on Toloacă's porch, huddled for warmth in between bear skins hung up at the end of each night. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

The 'bear tamer,' Gabriel Hanganu, sneaks a kiss from his fiancée, Anca, who has been waiting for him on Toloacă's porch, huddled for warmth in between bear skins hung up at the end of each night. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

 Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way, single-file into the night, through Asău village, stopping at the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way, single-file into the night, through Asău village, stopping at the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

 A lady bear in Toloaca's troupe plays with the young son of Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear dancer himself, after a performance at Apetroaie's home. The child's grandmother scurries by while his great-grandmother peers from inside the house.  December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

A lady bear in Toloaca's troupe plays with the young son of Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear dancer himself, after a performance at Apetroaie's home. The child's grandmother scurries by while his great-grandmother peers from inside the house. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

 After winning first place at Comăneşti's annual Bear Parade, Toloacă's troupe celebrates in the streets, singing, dancing, and toasting with homemade palinka liquor handed out by the locals. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

After winning first place at Comăneşti's annual Bear Parade, Toloacă's troupe celebrates in the streets, singing, dancing, and toasting with homemade palinka liquor handed out by the locals. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

 Two young bears chat in the corner of a bar where the rest of Toloaca's troupe has stopped for a rest, in between their visits to the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Two young bears chat in the corner of a bar where the rest of Toloaca's troupe has stopped for a rest, in between their visits to the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 12.17.23 AM.png
 A troupe of bears performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 A troupe of bears from Asău village performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 Dumitru Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way single-file through Comăneşti town, stopping at private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 Locals dressed as masked gypsies exit the stage set up in central Comăneşti as part of the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. In the past, when the bear dance was a gypsy tradition, ghoulishly masked dancers would enter a household just before the dancing bears. The masked figures would carry flames and create bonfires to chase away the bad spirits of the previous year. Today, the bear dance is still preceded by a parade of masked figures who wear gypsy costumes: floor-sweeping pleated skirts, wigs with long braided pigtails topped with colorful headscarves and faces smeared with black soot or stove grease to feign the ‘black’ gypsies, characteristically darker-skinned than the fair-skinned ethnic Romanians. They carry long hollow pipes stuffed with gun powder. The sparks and loud bangs produced when the gunpowder is lit are said to scare away last year's bad spirits. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 A troupe of bears performs on a stage set up in central  Comăneşti for the town's annual Bear Parade and competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania. © Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi
 Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages gather in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. Although in the minority, lady bears can be found in nearly every troupe. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages dance down the main street in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 Dumitru Toloaca, the leader of a bear troupe from Laloaia village, marches through the alleys of Asău village. He is followed closely by his 'bear tamer' and troupe of bears, guiding them to private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.
 Toloaca's troupe piles into a van that will take them to the next village. In the days leading up to the New Year, troupes of bears dance their way into the night through a handful of towns and villages in the Trotuș Valley. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.
 Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear in Toalaca's troupe, serves his fellow bears cubes pig fat, while his wife fills up glasses of homemade palinka liquor. The troupe has just finished performing at Apetroaie's home and is taking a rest before continuing to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.
 At the end of each night, bear skins hang from hooks on the ceiling of Tolaocă's front porch. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.
 Cătălin Apetroaie chats on his porch with a young bear and Gabriel Hanganu, the 'bear tamer.'  The troupe, led by Dumitru Toloaca, has just finished performing for Apetroaie's family and are resting before they continue on to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.
 The 'bear tamer,' Gabriel Hanganu, sneaks a kiss from his fiancée, Anca, who has been waiting for him on Toloacă's porch, huddled for warmth in between bear skins hung up at the end of each night. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.
 Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way, single-file into the night, through Asău village, stopping at the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.
 A lady bear in Toloaca's troupe plays with the young son of Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear dancer himself, after a performance at Apetroaie's home. The child's grandmother scurries by while his great-grandmother peers from inside the house.  December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.
 After winning first place at Comăneşti's annual Bear Parade, Toloacă's troupe celebrates in the streets, singing, dancing, and toasting with homemade palinka liquor handed out by the locals. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.
 Two young bears chat in the corner of a bar where the rest of Toloaca's troupe has stopped for a rest, in between their visits to the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

A troupe of bears performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

A troupe of bears from Asău village performs in central Comăneşti during the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Dumitru Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way single-file through Comăneşti town, stopping at private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Locals dressed as masked gypsies exit the stage set up in central Comăneşti as part of the town's annual Bear Parade and Competition. In the past, when the bear dance was a gypsy tradition, ghoulishly masked dancers would enter a household just before the dancing bears. The masked figures would carry flames and create bonfires to chase away the bad spirits of the previous year. Today, the bear dance is still preceded by a parade of masked figures who wear gypsy costumes: floor-sweeping pleated skirts, wigs with long braided pigtails topped with colorful headscarves and faces smeared with black soot or stove grease to feign the ‘black’ gypsies, characteristically darker-skinned than the fair-skinned ethnic Romanians. They carry long hollow pipes stuffed with gun powder. The sparks and loud bangs produced when the gunpowder is lit are said to scare away last year's bad spirits. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

A troupe of bears performs on a stage set up in central Comăneşti for the town's annual Bear Parade and competition. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania. © Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi

Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages gather in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. Although in the minority, lady bears can be found in nearly every troupe. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Troupes of bears from nearby towns and villages dance down the main street in Moineşti during the town's annual Bear Parade. December 27, 2014. Moineşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Dumitru Toloaca, the leader of a bear troupe from Laloaia village, marches through the alleys of Asău village. He is followed closely by his 'bear tamer' and troupe of bears, guiding them to private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Toloaca's troupe piles into a van that will take them to the next village. In the days leading up to the New Year, troupes of bears dance their way into the night through a handful of towns and villages in the Trotuș Valley. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear in Toalaca's troupe, serves his fellow bears cubes pig fat, while his wife fills up glasses of homemade palinka liquor. The troupe has just finished performing at Apetroaie's home and is taking a rest before continuing to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

At the end of each night, bear skins hang from hooks on the ceiling of Tolaocă's front porch. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

Cătălin Apetroaie chats on his porch with a young bear and Gabriel Hanganu, the 'bear tamer.' The troupe, led by Dumitru Toloaca, has just finished performing for Apetroaie's family and are resting before they continue on to the homes of other patrons that have requested their visit. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

The 'bear tamer,' Gabriel Hanganu, sneaks a kiss from his fiancée, Anca, who has been waiting for him on Toloacă's porch, huddled for warmth in between bear skins hung up at the end of each night. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

Toloaca's troupe of bears dance their way, single-file into the night, through Asău village, stopping at the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

A lady bear in Toloaca's troupe plays with the young son of Cătălin Apetroaie, a bear dancer himself, after a performance at Apetroaie's home. The child's grandmother scurries by while his great-grandmother peers from inside the house. December 28, 2014. Laloaia village, Bacău county, Romania.

After winning first place at Comăneşti's annual Bear Parade, Toloacă's troupe celebrates in the streets, singing, dancing, and toasting with homemade palinka liquor handed out by the locals. December 30, 2014. Comăneşti town, Bacău county, Romania.

Two young bears chat in the corner of a bar where the rest of Toloaca's troupe has stopped for a rest, in between their visits to the private homes where they've been invited to perform. December 28, 2014. Asău village, Bacău County, Romania.

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