Yesterday I was lucky enough to be in the small Transylvanian city of Brasov on the day of the annual Junii parade. Groups of men dressed in dazzlingly bright traditional costumes ride through the streets, accompanied by brass bands. As they stop the riders shout ‘Hristos a inviat!’ (Christ is risen!’), with the crowd shouting back ‘Adevarat a inviat!’ (‘Truly risen!’).
Junni commemorates the one day of the year when, under Hungarian rule, the young Romanian men of Schei (once a small village outside the old city walls, now part of Brasov) were allowed into town.
Some of the costumes are as much as 150 years old, and the elaborate decoration (including thousands of sequins) makes them incredibly heavy. The horses get rather jumpy at times and do a fair bit of prancing and kicking – usually the moment for the crowds lining the roadside to duck backwards in a hurry….