Dressing up is not just a Halloween tradition in Transylvania, costumes integrate with the heritage of life here. In the land of masked creatures, it is only natural that they come out at various times of the year, the legends are true, and we’ve got a tradition that confirms that for you! On January 28th every year there is a timeless Saxon tradition dating back to the 17th century called the “Run of the Lola”. In Sibiu County specifically in the town of Agnita, you will find these masked creatures.
So what are the Lolas? They are masked characters(well people dressed in costume but let’s not spoil the magic) dressed in white garments with coloured edges. They have long braided tails tied with bows, and on their heads they wear a vivid colourful mask lined with rabbit fur. Lola’s are intended to look demonic which has special significance. Every year they engage in a wonderful performance of dancing which keeps the festive spirit alive. There are more than 100 of them running through the town to ward off evil spirits while yelling their hellish noises and beating the ground with their Saxon-style woven leather whips. Why is this a sight that you won’t want to miss?
Well because they are the county’s symbol of protection, a reminder of a classic legend which has been passed down for centuries in the Saxon villages. This is where you get the feeling of how a legend comes to life and is revered in Sibiu.
The legend says that the custom was born in the 13th century when a group of invaders sieged the small Saxon town of Agnita. Frightened inhabitants in the region took shelter in the fortified church but eventually after constant attacks and famines, they lost their courage and freedom. On the brink of surrendering into slavery came a hero, the daughter of a furrier named Ursula who decided to confront the enemies dressed in a man’s costume, putting on a demonic mask and making deafening sounds in front of the enemies. The Tatars were frightened thinking it was the devil and left town.The bravery of Ursula, therefore started a legacy which continues to celebrate courage, luck and protection in Transylvania today.