The Pageant of the Juni is a complex of customs combining pre-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.
But what is sure is that the celebration (Juni deriving from the Latin “young men”) sees the youth of the Schei (formerly a traditional Romanian village, now a district of Brasov) riding through the town dressed up in amazing costumes and followed by brass bands.
Some of the elaborate costumes are over 150 years old and one of them is sewn with over 40000 spangles and weighs almost 10 kilograms !
The old celebration used to take place during ten days: on 25 March (Blagovestenie, an important day in the traditional calendar), on the Palm Sunday and the eight days starting with the Easter Sunday. The custom was minutely organized: very strict rules of entering and leaving the Juni, the ritual acts carefully performed on specific days and specific moments, age prohibitions imposed to the participants, ritual meals, ritual dances (cateaua, hora) and artifacts (the fife/surla, the mace/buzduganul), fertility and virility practices, etc.
Once Schei village became a district of Brasov, many of the meanings were lost, but the celebration remains however a spectacular event. The parade from Unirii Square – the historic center of Schei – towards the Council Square and then towards the Gorges of Pietrele lui Solomon has been preserved without changes. Also the throwing of the mace, once a proof of strength and virility, has been kept.
The popular dance at Pietrele lui Solomon – called hora – was once a sanction in the traditional villages, the miscreants not being allowed to join the circle.
An event loaded with ancient rituals, the Pageant of Juni is still alive and kicking and it is here to stay.
References: Ion Ghinoiu, Romanian Feasts and Customs
Centrul Judetean pentru Conservarea si Promovarea Culturii Traditionale, Brasov (www.folclor-bv.ro)