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  • #346289

    Anonymous

    [size=12pt]"Ptaškowa swajźba" – Birds' Wedding[/size]

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    The Birds’ Wedding is a custom that has its roots in the pre-Christian era where people sacrificed food to ancestors' ghosts. They expected to get favour and sympathy from the gods of nature.

    In the course of time the sacrificial offerings to the ancestors altered into gift-giving to the children due to decreasing belief in ghosts' potency.

    Nowadays the Birds' Wedding is celebrated by children on January 25. The reasons for this date are observations from the flora and fauna. Around about this time several bird species begin to nest and lay eggs. It is the time for people awaiting the awakening spring.

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    It is said the Lusatian Birds' Wedding comes from the Upper Sorbian language region in which this custom is widely spread in families.

    In Lower Lusatia it is celebrated in kindergardens and schools where the children feed the birds during winter. In return for this service they can join in their wedding. That is why they put plates and bowls on the ledge. They get a piece of pastry shaped as a magpie (Sorbian: sroka)

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    [img width=700 height=466]http://files.homepagemodules.de/b66756/f23t16973p10314364n1.jpg” />

    In kindergardens the wedding is celebrated with the magpie as the bride and the raven as the groom (Sorbian: wron). The bridal couple is dressed festively, in most cases with Lower Sorbian costumes while the other children are masqueraded as birds. There is even a song about it which each child is learning in the kindergarden. On this day it is sung, of course.

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    In contrast, adults prefer folksy evenings with a Birds' Wedding programme executed by the Sorbian National Ensemble.

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    #427108

    Anonymous

    [size=12pt]"Zapust" – The Shrovetide[/size]

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    Zapust dance

    "Zapust" is most likely the most copiously and jolly celebrated festival in Lower Lusatia. Thousands of citizens of the villages around Cottbus celebrate this festival annually from the middle of January until the beginning of March. The background of this tradition is the rural working life. It was still celebrated by the youth in the 1950s as the final of the spinning room period. On this occasion the young men went for the maidens to invite them for "Zapust". In former days the Lower Sorbian shrovetide took a full week but today it takes just three days.

    "Camprowanje"

    This historical older part of "Zapust" is originated in pre-Christian belief of fertility magic or defence magic. Elements of magic and cult such as masquerade, disguise, making noise, whipping the rod and dancing point to the defence against daemons and dangers.

    The "camprowanje" staff was equipped with willow and birch rods. They touched adults and children with that "rod of life", symbolising the new coming vital power of the springtime.

    Some of the oldest mummeries are the double person "the dead man carries the living one", the white horse rider, the stork as a symbol of the arising spring and the bear as a symbol of the leaving winter.

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    Nowadays these symbols have lost their importance and have rather disappeared. They have been replaced by up-to-date costumes or fantastic guises.

    The youth of the village in their costumes are on their tour from one house to the next with music and noise in order to beg for eggs, bacon and money. Usually the tour is running on a Saturday, in some villages on a Sunday. As a gesture of thankyou, the housewife is asked for a dance and the husband is offered a "paleńc", a glass of schnapps. In most cases the collected gifts will be consumed one week later at the "Egg Meal".

    "Zapustowy pśeśěg" – Festive Procession

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    The festive procession on Sunday is the highlight of "Zapust". Around noon the maidens and bachelors of the village meet in the tavern where the pairs for the procession are going to be assembled.

    The maidens are wearing their festive costumes with the neckerchiefs of silken embroidery and white lace aprons. The costume is complete with the "lapa" which is an elaborately bound bonnet. Unfortunately, in some villages this bonnet is no longer in use.

    [img width=700 height=408]http://leser-fuer-leser.de/burg/files/2013/02/ZFN_Schmogrow_004.jpg” />

    Each lad receives from his maiden a small "Zapust" paper flower bouquet which is sticked onto his hat or his revers. After a dance the procession will be formed. While the procession is parading through the village, honoured citizens as for example the mayor, the pastor, the school director or heads of clubs and associations are visited. These persons also get a "Zapust" bouquet and the band plays a serenade to dance. In return they have to give a refreshment or pay into the cash box.

    In the evening all people meet in the restaurant for the shrovetide dance. It is an old rule to dance copiously during the shrovetide in order to support flax ripeness. To make the flax longer you should jump high while dancing. For a maiden it would be effective to dance with a lad as tall as possible. In many villages the shrovetide ends with Men's Shrovetide.

    The last dance evening is reserved for the married. The women are also dressed in their festive costumes. As a compensation, the youth of the village meets for the "Egg Meal".

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    #427109

    Anonymous

    [size=12pt]Jatšowne jajka – Wonderful Easter Traditions[/size]

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    A well known game played by children as well as by adults is "Waleien". Most likely it has ist origins in an ancient magic spell for fertility was supposed to support the growth of fresh grass. Rolling eggs over fields and grass was supposed to have a positive influence on the growth. People dug holes, called "walka", into the ground everywhere on the courts. On Easter Sunday the children went with their beautiful adorned eggs to these places for playing "Waleien". The game is working as follows: An egg was placed at the deepest point of the hole. All players then try to hit this egg with one of theirs. In case of being successful the player was allowed to keep both eggs. Otherwise both eggs stay in the "walka". Often it happened that children lost all eggs. Then coins or buttons were used instead.

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    Up to the 1960s you could have seen people playing this game in Lower Lusatia but now it is very rare to find someone still practising this custom. Exceptions can be found at a few kindergardens and the Niedersorbisches Gymnasium (Lower Lusatian Grammar School) as well as in a few villages.

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    Easter singing

    The "Eierspecken" or "Eierpicken" has also disappeared. In this very popular game both players had to knock the ends of two eggs together. The owner of the egg which is left intact won the other player's egg.

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    #427110

    Anonymous

    [size=12pt]Maypole[/size]

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    The Maypole and May branches with fresh green embody the growth spirit which is supposed to bring health and fertility. In many calendars May 1 was celebrated as the beginning of the summer season.

    In many places you can still today see the people setting up the Maypole on the eve of April 30 or in the morning of May 1. This is regarded as a symbol of health and growth of the whole village by the youth. If another village succeeds in sawing off or stealing it this dishonours the whole village and they cannot plant another Maypole for seven years.

    [img width=465 height=700]http://www.landkreis-bautzen.de/img/mein_landkreis/gross-02_03_Maibaum.jpg” />

    Source

    #427111

    Anonymous

    [size=12pt]"Jańske rejtowanje"[/size]

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    The time around Midsummer’s Night is the nature's most powerful period. This is reflected on St. John's Day celebrations on June 24 showing. According to an old belief this day would be the most miraculous of the year. The people believed that curativeness would be caused especially by the Midsummer Night.

    Nowadays you can see the "Jańske rejtowanje", a riding procession, only in Casel, a small village near Drebkau. In the middle of the 19th century it was still celebrated in several villages of Lower Lusatia. But not only the locations but also the responsible persons have changed. In former days the village's youth did the job but now it is planned and organised by a special traditions club.

    [img width=700 height=525]http://www.drebkauer-ansichten.de/images/images/jr05/36.JPG” />

    The central figure is "Johann" or "Jan", a man in a fancy dress, personifying the spirit of growth and fruitfulness. You can see that since he is fully covered with flowers and greens, also wearing a crown on his head. This festivity requires substantial efforts to prepare it. Thousands of cornflowers have to be collected in order to make Jan's odd-looking costume. Already on the day before, each girl collects masses of flowers and then plaits wreaths and tendrils some metres long. The young men have to supply water lilies at the crack of dawn in order to complete Jan's crown which is already composed of roses and Carthusian Pinks. The flowers stand for people's vitality and lea's fruitfulness. Cornflowers are also used as medicinal herbs. Water lilies and reeds are signs of the vitally important water.

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    On the festival's forenoon the maidens begin to dress Jan. Cornflower tendrils are sewn on the garment from the neck down to the knees. Completely decorated, Jan rides from the restaurant to the festival place, accompanied by the village's fellows and a brass band. The riding procession is led by the maidens marching ahead in their white frocks trimmed with blue and red stripes. They take along a second crown which is to present Jan at evening's honouring dance. Having arrived at the festivity area, Jan and his whole attendance ride some rounds through the crowd. Now the companions have a hard job: They have to protect Jan against people making attempts to pull him down the horse in order to loot his flower decoration.

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    #427112

    Anonymous

    [size=12pt]Harvest Customs[/size]

    "Kokot" – The cock

    Many Lower Lusatian customs have a strong relationship to the end of the harvest time because the grain crop is the most important time of the year for farmers. Having a good harvest was decisive not only for farmers but also for the poorer people in the villages.

    In former times people believed in animal-shaped spirits of fertility and fruitfulness. The cock, "kokot", was rumoured to have a strong effect on the harvest. At the end of the harvest the cock hid under the last sheaf to maintain its power until the next harvest time. This particular sheaf was decorated by the harvesters with colourful flowers and ribbons, while they shouted: "Zins jo kokot" (“today is cock day”). This shew that it was the final day of harvesting.

    [img width=700 height=525]http://www.schmogrow.de/geschichtliches/jahreslauf/erntefest/hahnrupfen.jpg” />

    Of course, this day was celebrated with singing, dancing and plenty of drinking. Men got clipped ear bunches while the young women made harvest wreaths and a big harvest crown which announced the end of the grain harvest.

    "Łapanje kokota" – Cock plucking

    [img width=700 height=461]http://www.lideazeme.cz/files/imagecache/dust_filerenderer_big/files/upload/story_press/6608/78_79b_jpg_513da7203f.jpg” />

    Cock plucking is the most common harvest custom in Lower Lusatia. A dead cock is tied up upside down on the top of a wooden gate which is decorated with green leaves.

    [img width=700 height=466]http://www.nowycasnik.de/img/fota/big/404.jpg” />

    Young men are riding one after another through the gate and try to rip the cock's head off. The one being successful is called "kral" (First King) and he will be honoured and celebrated. The next young men who are successful and grab the cocks's wings will be called the Second and the Third King. The three winners will be decorated with big wreaths made out of oak leaves. The kings who are blindfolded have the right to choose girls for their honouring dance.

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    Of course, also harvest queens are elected. The girls compete in funny games to show their skillfullness. These games include frog-carting or egg-racing, sometimes also bachelor-carting.

    [img width=700 height=512]http://www.schmogrow.de/geschichtliches/jahreslauf/erntefest/erntekoenige.jpg” />

    Finally the crowd walks cheerfully to the restaurant for dancing. The harvest crown is carried ahead, decorated richly with colourful ribbons.

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    #430016

    Anonymous

    It is said the Lusatian Birds’ Wedding comes from the Upper Sorbian language region in which this custom is widely spread in families.

    In Lower Lusatia it is celebrated in kindergardens and schools where the children feed the birds during winter. In return for this service they can join in their wedding. That is why they put plates and bowls on the ledge. They get a piece of pastry shaped as a magpie (Sorbian: sroka)



    There is a similar tradition of baking the birds for spring equinox in Belarusian culture. The name of the rite is called Hukanne viasny (the calling of the spring), which survived since pagan times. The birds are called ‘saraki’ (magpies) or lark birds (žaŭruki) depending on the region. Spring songs and birds are the main attributes of the festive

    Hukanne viasny in Belarus : http://oi59.tinypic.com/2wqg2a0.jpg

    Baked birds:

    http://oi58.tinypic.com/ixuom0.jpg
    http://oi61.tinypic.com/1zlub68.jpg

    —-

    I wonder if Sorbs celebrate or celebrated in the past a similar spring festive? :)

    #430017

    Anonymous

    That might totally be. ;) The bird’s wedding might be the rest of a much larger tradition, the similarities are surely no coincidence, especially the sroki/saraki, although January 25th is still deepest winter. Thanks for the info about Hukanne viasny, I did not know about it! :)

    Today, to ban the winter (and all bad things that happened in the year before) we have the chodojtypalenje – the Witch-Burning on April 30, and for the welcoming of the spring, there is the mejemetanje, the Downthrowing of the Maypole in May.
    Some Google Search pictures of mejemetanje

    #430019

    Anonymous

    @hanka2

    We also have a similar celebration called «Maslenitsa» held in March in Belarus. The festive is a fusion between pagan rite and Christian traidition. It’s held on the last week before longest fasting that leads to Easter. However, most attributes of the festive are pagan in origin. The main attribute are тче pan-cakes that symoblise the sun and the straw doll also known as Marena (Morana, Smrtka in other Slavic languages), which is burnt on the last day of celebration to symbolise the end of winter.

    The burning of Marena : http://www.belintourist.com/img/1128/2%20maslenitsa_0x0_tr.jpg

    Another picture of Hukanne viasny celebration : http://oi59.tinypic.com/2w40iet.jpg

    #430022

    Anonymous

    Thanks! :) Feels nice to see the same traditions over there in Belarus!
    Here are some more nice pictures of the mejemetanje, including the traditional clothes. When the maypole is thrown down, the boys run to get to the top of it, and the one who gets there first is the May king. He chooses his queen from the girls, and often they ride through the village on a horse.
    panschwitz-kuckau.de/Bilder/cpg/displayimage.php?album=56&pid=2553#top_display_media

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