Sorbian Customs in the Spreewald

The Sorbian settlers brought with them numerous legends and customs that have shaped the Spreewald and its culture to this day. Many inhabitants of the Spreewald also keep Sorbian traditions alive in everyday life. Let yourself be captivated by the colourful traditional costumes, the traditional dances and original customs during a holiday in the Spreewald and get to know the customs of the region at first hand.

Especially in the summer months, you can experience the traditions of the Sorbs and Wends, because in the warm season, numerous villages invite you to traditional homeland and village festivals that give visitors an insight into the Sorbian way of life. But you can also experience old customs in winter, because great Sorbian and Wendish events take place during the Winter Traditions Weeks.

Sorbian Carnival (Zapust)

The Sorbian Shrovetide (Zapust) is one of the biggest festivals in Lusatia. It is a way of saying goodbye to the long winter and driving away evil spirits and demons. An important part of Sorbian Shrovetide is the so-called Zampern: costumed Zamper people accompanied by a band parade through the village with a pannier, rick and cash box. The villagers have bacon, eggs, money and schnapps ready for the Zamper people. The Zapust ends with the traditional carnival dance and pancake supper.

© TVS | Peter Becker

Easter Customs in the Spreewald

The numerous Easter customs in the region can also be traced back to the Sorbs. They include Waleien (egg rolling), fetching Easter water and the widespread tradition of the Easter bonfire. In Upper Lusatia, and especially among the Catholic Sorbs, Easter riding is also celebrated.

Decorating Easter eggs When decorating Easter eggs, the Sorbs/Wends developed typical ornaments and techniques. Waxing, scratching, etching and bossing techniques are used to create colourful works of art that decorate Easter bushes and Easter nests. Different meanings are attributed to the colourful ornaments. For example, the wolf's teeth (triangles) give strength and protection from evil.

Easter water Easter water is said to have a healing and rejuvenating effect. At sunrise on Easter Sunday, the Easter water must be drawn from a stream. During transport, neither a sound may be spoken nor a drop spilled. This is to preserve the purity and effect of the water.

Wendish Easter riding The Easter riding proclaims the good news of Christ's resurrection. This custom is especially widespread among the Catholic Sorbs and in Upper Lusatia. You can experience this custom every year in Zerkwitz.


© TVS | Peter Becker

Harvest customs in the Spreewald

In the summer months, a number of harvest customs enrich cultural rural life. Here, the rooster is considered a symbol of the spirit of fertility. Thus, with the traditional cock plucking and cock striking, one wants to make room for the fertility spirit of the old year for a new cock that will bring strength for the next growing season.

Rooster plucking

Boys and men ride through a gate richly decorated with sundries such as sweets, small bottles and other bounties. They then try to catch the head or wings of the no longer living rooster that is fixed there. The winner is awarded a dance with the winner of the frog cart.


Nowadays, the rooster is usually only placed in a basket decorated with flowers and foliage. Meanwhile, the boys from the village have to beat a pot with a flail while blindfolded. The most skilful is king and is allowed to catch a queen from the round of dancing girls while blindfolded. The cock is then released and caught by the village youth. The catcher becomes second king, and later the rooster is auctioned off.

Frog cart

In the frog cart, the girls have to push a cart to the finish line, on the rung of which sits a live frog, which also has to make it to the finish line. The winner gets a dance with the winner of the rooster plucking.