However, for those in Romania's eastern Moldova region, this is a time of celebration.
The event of the dancing bears, who are actually locals wearing real bearskins, takes place annually between Christmas and New Year's.
This tradition, seen before by few except for the natives, has now come into the limelight, as captured by New York-based photographer Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi.
Alhindawi, a former humanitarian aid worker now pursuing photo projects mainly across Africa, is half-Romanian and lived there until she was 8, when her family left as refugees, first to Canada and then New York.
Alhindawi's beautiful images show men and women in full bear costume, parading through the streets in and around her old hometown, Moinesti.
They're accompanied by drummers and a singing "bear tamer."
Candid shots also show the bear dancers enjoying downtime -- smoking cigarettes, sharing drinks, relaxing and even kissing.
The bear dancing is meant to drive away evil spirits.
(Excerpts and pics : cnn.com)