Junii Brasovului – The Lads of Brasov

Junii Brașoveni, Junii Brașovului or Junii from Șcheii Brașovului is a group of riders from Șcheii Brașovului, today having only a ceremonial function, which, every year, parades on horseback through the streets of Brașov. Their celebration, according to some sources, would represent a series of traditions and customs that combine pre-Christian practices with Christian manifestations to reproduce the old myth of the ritual death and rebirth of calendar time.
At its origins, this organization in gangs was also intended to defend property against thieves, considering that, once upon a time, the Brasov citadel was a commercial center, and once it got dark, the gates of the citadel were closed, all foreigners being taken out. In those times, the foreigners would walk around the fortress during the night and sometimes robb the households of the inhabitants.

The Junii of Braşov keep the traditions of their grandparents and respect them with sanctity. The traditions of the Braşov Lads begins near the Annunciation, on March 25, when it is also the beginning of spring. On this holiday, the surlaş (trompet player) comes out and announces to the whole community, through the sound of the instrument, that spring has come. The most anticipated celebration of June is the “Riding Day”, on Thomas Sunday, the first Sunday after the Resurrection. This is also the day when the famous Lads Parade, or “Descent into the Citadel”, as it is also called, takes place. All 7 Juni companies descend on the fortress, with the most beautiful traditional costumes, with the horses also decorated for the celebration, and the public enjoys a special sight. Some of the Lads shout “Christ is risen!”, and the others (or even the crowd that is gathered at the show) respond “Truly he is risen!”, forms of greeting used until 24th of June, between Lads.

There are 7 groups of Juni, ranked as follows: Junii Tineri (Young Lads), Junii Bătrâni (Old Lads), Junii Curcani (Turkey Lads), Junii Dorobanti, Junii Brașovecheni, Junii Roșiori (Red Lads) and Junii Albiori (White Lads). The last group was born in 1924. The group of Junii Dorobanti is different because is it made up exclusively of married men.

The tradition of the Lads is considered as one of the initiation rituals among boys, being included in the cycle of groups. The definition of the term “june” in Transylvania is that of “young unmarried boy”. It is a tradition inspired, indeed, from our ancestors, the Daci people, having the meaning, in those times, of an ancient ritual of the sun rising, at the beginning of spring, when nature comes back to life.