New Year’s Eve traditions with bears and masks are very old, definitely pre-Christian. These traditions are still preserved in parts of Romania, especially in Moldova and Bucovina. In 2003 I went to Vintileasca, a small village from Moldova, Romania. About 30 men sing, dance and “attack” passers-by, interpreting the ritual of death and resurrection of the bear. The script and props have been adapted to modern times.
Here you may find the entire article published in NG Romania: https://www.natgeo.ro