After the heavy snows of the tough Brasov winters are gone and spring appears again, is the time for the people from Schei, the oldest district of Brasov, to start celebrating the renewal. Each year, they have a festival, called “Junii”, (translated ‘The Feast of the Youth’) which stretches over weeks, has its crescendo on the first Sunday after Easter, typically when 7 groups of men from Schei ride their horses from the mountains and foothills around Brasov and travel around Brasov. They carry with them mace like batons, which are scepters and flags, as well as each group having its own special and unique costumes. The Pageant of the Juni is a complex of customs combining per-Christian and Christian practices into the ancient myth of the time’s death and rebirth. The roots if this spectacular event are lost in legend. Nobody knows any more if the celebration started as an initiation ritual of the youngsters or to mark the only day of the year that Romanians could freely enter the Saxon city of Brasov.
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. Whoever throws the scepter highest in the air wins the competition. After the ritual ends, if the weather is good, the Junii and their families will have a barbecue with traditional music and the Romanian hamburger called “mic”.