Despite Romania's struggles with issues related to bears, several towns in Transylvania worship the animal through a traditional dance during their annual winter traditions. This ritual is performed in many of the regions during the last days of December to fertilise and purify the soil, chase away evil spirits and welcome the new year. The relationship between Romanians and these large creatures is steeped in history, and this tradition is unique to the country.

Even young children, such as this blue-eyed girl join the dance, despite there weight of the pelts - up to 50kg.
A small town nestled in the Carpathian Mountains has an unusual visitor. As the sun sets and the streets become quiet, brown bears begin to roam the streets.

This old male sneaks through a broken fence in search of food. While their habitat shrinks, bears are forced to search elsewhere, and our waste provides a reliable source of food. To maintain their health, bears need about 10 kg of food per day.
A bear silently enters a garden when the night falls. The setting sun signals it's time for bears to move. Bears do not reside in human territory permanently, instead, they cover great distances every night to find food. Bears are creatures of habit, and follow a strict route and timetable to visit their favorite garbage bins in a specific order. They learn where to find the most satisfying meals.
This curious bear is on the prowl, ignoring the fences and human-made barriers as it searches for a meal. The opportunistic and determinate nature of bears shines through as it expertly navigates the street in pursuit of it’s goal. The local community put fences to keep bears at bay, yet their sense of smell is so keen that they always find a way to their desired destination. Even if that means destroying a fence.
An adorable cub peeks at the camera, while its mother watches over from behind. Cubs are curious and playful creatures. They spend most of their time exploring their surroundings and learning new things.

However, the mother bear is always nearby, keeping a watchful eye on her cubs and ready to intervene if necessary. Bears are known for their protective nature when it comes to their cubs.
The Carpathians are home to extensive primeval forests that are remarkanle biodiverse that is increasingly threatened. While many countries are rebuilding what was lost, Romania has been diligently working to protect and preserve the natural treasures that it still holds to ensure the preservation of these vital ecosystems for future generations.
Bears are known to be selective eaters and will go to great lengths to find food that they have an appetite for. This often includes tipping over garbage bins, causing the garbage to be spread out over the street. Fruits, chocolate, and meat are among their favorite snacks. This new diet leads to becoming more reliant on human-provided food.
A young participant in the annual winter festival in Comanesti is about to take the stage to perform, and his proud father is doing the finishing touch on the costume. This tradition is ancient and has been passed down from generation to generation. The bear pelts used in the festival are re-used each year and may be generations old.
Father dressed as bear tamer, and son dressed as bear walking to the festival in Comanesti where they will do their performance.

The participants of the winter traditions go from door to door collecting money as they make their way to the festival. The money collected is used to cover the high expenses of renting bear pelts. This community participation is vital in keeping the festival alive as everyone works together to ensure it's continuation.
People from all over the region are converging on larger cities like Comănești in the Moldova area to showcase their traditional dance performances on stage. After the show, a panel of judges will select the winning performance. The square is filled with thousands of people from all generations, who come together to watch the shows and celebrate.