The present study represents an introduction to mask plays, from the perspective of documentary and historiographical sources, as well as ethnographic field researches. Similar rites occur in the passage of the two milestones represented by death and crossing from one year to another. There are similarities between wake songs by the body of a dead person and mask plays in the New Year period. Mask plays give evidence of human activities transcending their natural course. The Visible World meets the Underworld, the skies open, and the living intermingle the dead disguised with masks. The impressive shows performed during winter feasts by suits of masked men dancing on the stage represent a consequence of modern time secularization, a loss of the original ritual sense gradually produced in a ceaselessly transforming world.
Keywords: mask plays, New Year traditions, pre-Christian traditions, historical sources.
Cuvinte-cheie: jocuri cu măşti, datini de Anul Nou, tradiţii precreştine, surse istorice.