Borica Dance of Săcele

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History - Traditions

On the first days of Christmas, despite the cold and the snow, youngsters go from house to house dancing the Borica all day and all night. Borica is a spectacular traditional dance performed mainly by boys on Christmas night in all the households of the village, as well as on Christmas morning in the middle of the village, in front of a crowd.

Wild scuffle on the snow. Silent screams, bloody red flames. Deep shadows in the dusk. Blood-freezing masks – eagle feathers, horsehair, pig teeth. Sword clinging. “One-two-three…” Four fight for their lives. The swords are almost in flames. Cowbell clanging. The weakest falls into the snow. “He has the Devil inside him!” The sword cuts through skin, flesh and bone. Only death can cleanse the soul and the body. The cowbells are louder. They conjure the ancient creative power. Away with the swords, it’s time for the whip. Wild snaps to oust the evil and have only the good remain. New, strong soul for the fallen weak. The whip’s handle glues the body together, cures the wound and the last strong snap chases the new soul into his body. The divine miracle of resurrection. New life begins, new faith is born, the evil is gone for good. This is the initiation. It happened. The weak become strong, the boy became a man. “Go now; run, like the wild horses!”

This pantomime is the closing scene of the Borica, an ancient Csango dance, performed by men. It is an initiation ritual, magical action, sacred order. It symbolizes the rebirth of the Sun. the rehearsals and the preparations happen in the Advent time, meaning that everybody prepares for Christmas. Back in the days the dancing men used to go from house to house during the winter solstice, the rite passing even to the carnival period. On February 6, 1764, the Council of Brassó (Brașov) prohibited the dance and the rite, after this the performance took place only in secret on December 28, the day of the Massacre of the Innocents (Biblical). István Zajzoni Rab described this as extinct custom in 1861, but nowadays the Borica is living its Renaissance.

The dancing men wear black or white baize stockings with a gray or black sweater. On their heads they wear a lambskin poling hat decorated with colored ribbons and feather-grass. On their feet they have high boots with spurs, rattles and bells.

The dancers enter the yards in a nice queue, in front with the tebe, the one carrying the fir tree. Its branches are decorated with gilded fruits. He is followed by two-three gypsies: one playing the flute, one playing the violin and one playing the kobza (East-European 8 string lute). They are followed by the Borica dancers, in front with two vataf, followed by the kuka. The latest, with their play and dance try to keep the crowds at distance. Right in the back, the kosarasok (the ones with the baskets) and the nyáshordozuók (the ones with skewers) arrive, carrying the meat, eggs, sausages and bread. If the host forgets something (small object used around the house) outside and that is found by a kuka, this will be returned to his owner after paying a penny. From the food and money received for their dance, a great party is held in the village in the evening.

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Transylvanian Carpathia Society (Erdélyi Kárpát-Egyesület, shortly EKE)