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The goat dance

the Romanian name being "Capra"

The goat dance appears in the habit of the New Year's Eve as a symbol of fertility and fecundity, connecting the Romanian territory to the Greek antiquity and to the Oriental civilizations.
The goat dance
Watching today the play of the Goat mask, in every area of the country, you'll recognize in the virtuous pantomime of the mask bearer, in the vitality of his movements but also in the death and rebirth of the Goat, the ancient symbol of vegetation. The goat dance is a frantic dance, which is executed for thousands of years in every carolled house.

The goat dance has different names from a region to another: stag in Hunedoara, goat or "turca" in Moldavia and Ardeal, "borita" in South Transylvania. This custom is also called "brezaia" in Wallachia and Oltenia, because of the multicoloured appearance of the mask.
The goat
The traditional goat dance is a complex folk play with many characters (masks).

The woodenhead of the Goat is covered with fur (of kid or rabbit). The inferior jaw is mobile in order to "clatter". Its cornels may come from a real animal (the goat, ram or deer) or may be made of wood. Between the cornels there are fantastic decorative compositions from the girls' beadwork or their handkerchiefs, multicoloured tassels or ribbons, mirrors, tinsel, ivy, basil, artificial or natural flowers.
Goat costume
Everything is extremely glittering and fascinating, reflecting the light and the relegation of the dark and the cold, which destroyed the vegetation. The body of the Goat is made of textile (carpets, red sail) on which other decorative elements are sewed: embroidered handkerchiefs (Suceava), beadwork sticks (Bacau), thatch ear (Botosani, Iasi), goat furs (Vrancea, Mehedinti), sail or colour paper filets (Neamt, Giurgiu) etc.

A noisy children group accompanies the mask together with the country singers who accompany the goat dance. The goat jumps, jerks, turns round, and bends, clattering regularly the wooden jaws offering a remarkable authentic show.
The goat dance
Similarly to the other dances with masks performed during the winter holidays, in the goat dance, besides the classical masks, the goat, the shepherd, the gipsy, the woodman, masks of devils and "greybeards" are introduced, where yells, lusty cheers, funny gestures, intensify the cheerful, humorous aspect.

Nowadays the goat dance is only a pretext for one of the traditional artistic events, an opportunity for displaying beautiful ornaments, carpets, towels (all in bright colours) and less performing in order to cheer up people and express the best wishes for the New Year.

Previous custom: The star
Next custom: The bear dance
Back to Christmas in Romania






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