Solomon Festival 2014:

A Union of the Old and the Young

January 16, 2015  |  By Asger Skovdal Jepsen, Denmark

Solomon Festival 2014:

Photo : Asger Skovdal Jepsen

<p>A mace soars upwards through the air, and as it reaches the top of its projection, time seems to stand still. As the seconds tick away, several thoughts race in my mind. What is the purpose of this? The significance? How long until the mace falls down again? And who will be there to catch it? What if the man who threw it into the air won't be able to catch it and it falls right between his eyes? Suddenly the mace begins its travel downwards. It falls, falls straight into the outstretched hand of a costumed man. The crowd roars, as the man smiles and joins a big, coordinated circular dance in the middle. Just what is going on here? The yearly Brasovian Solomon Festival, that's what.</p> <p>The celebration started on Saturday the 20<sup>th</sup>, with a procession from the courtyard of the City Hall, accompanied with music and carts decorated with flowers. Local officials were also invited to join the juniors. From here, the procession walked through the streets of Brasov, bypassing the Black Church and rejoining at Baritiu, to Schei. The group followed a route of Casa Armatei - Muresenilor - Sfatului Square - Baritiu - Schei - Prundului - Street Bridge Tocile - Cretului - Birt, and finally at the bottom of Solomon's Rocks, where the festival officially began.</p> <p>The festival started at 12:00 with a traditional junior dance, which starts any traditional event in Schei. During this dance, a mace wearing the Romanian colors is thrown into the air and caught again on the way down. A scene of 50 square meters was set up in the middle of the area, where traditional dances and music occurred.</p> <p>The rest of the day was filled with music, dancing, beer and donut eating competitions, riding lessons with lessons on fixing webbing ladders for the right riding height, workshops on throwing the mace as well as lots of traditional seasonal products such as grilled pastrami, sausages, mash, wine etc, which could be bought at the many food shops, beer tents and barbecue facilities strewn throughout the festival area.</p> <p>The festival is a celebration of the traditional seven groups of Schei, the old district of Brasov. The seven groups is due to the belief that God made the world in seven days, and each group also comes from a different quarter in the Schei neighborhood. Each group also have different dresses and traditions, as well as their separate dates for celebration, but the Solomon Fest is where all seven groups come together to share in the unity of the traditions that comprise their community. The Solomon Fest is a part of the greater %u201CJunii Feast%u201D, a feast that has its climax on the first Sunday after Easter, where these seven groups will ride from the mountains and travel around Brasov.</p> <p>The seven groups all have their origin in the military from the 1800's fighting the Turks, and the different dresses the members of the groups wear nowadays are reminiscent of different ranks in the military, by way of ribbons and feathers in the headdresses. The different dances also symbolize union and discipline, like in the military. Typically, the different traditions are passed from one generation to the next, but one can be 'adopted' into the group through intermarriage, as was the case with one participant of the festival I managed to interview. 'I've been a member for 8 years. I became &lt;adopted&gt; into the group when I got married, and I hoped I could participate in the events through my father-in-law,' he said.</p> <p>The events and activities, as well as the uniting spirit at the Solomon Fest, show how alive the old ways are and how the old culture is still thriving in Brasov. Although it is just tradition and something you just support for some Brasovians, it is still important for the majority. As one participant put it, 'It is important to come and show appreciation for tradition. The tradition is strong in the old town.'</p>

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