Sorbian sagas

Its dark water arms, unfathomable forests and mystical mists fire the imagination. There are many legends in the Spreewald - whether true or imagined - and they all reflect the region's exciting history. The origin story of the Spreewald, for example, says that the devil created the region.

With two large black oxen in front of a plough, he is said to have come to break up the bed of the Spree. But the animals refused, pulling sometimes to the right, then to the left. The devil quickly lost patience and retreated into hell with a roar. The team of oxen, however, continued to chase, ceaselessly pulling hundreds of ditches, before it too disappeared. What remained was the mysterious flowing landscape of the Spreewald.

The Snake King in the Spreewald

On the gables of old houses in the Spreewald is the symbol of two crossed snakes. They stand for the Snake King, who is supposed to protect the inhabitants. Many legends in the Spreewald are entwined around him. The most famous one tells of a count who wanted to steal the golden crown of the Snake King. He saw how the king often played with other snakes in a clearing and always placed the crown on a bright spot beforehand. One day the count spread a white cloth in the clearing and hid himself. The snake king came, put the crown on the cloth and then turned to the other snakes. The count seized the moment, grabbed the cloth and crown and rode off on his horse. The snakes followed him, but he jumped over a wall and escaped. The count was henceforth a rich man and chose the snakes as his heraldic animal.

The midday woman in the Spreewald

Woe to the farmer who continues to work in the fields during the hot noon hour! If you believe another legend in the Spreewald, the midday woman appears to him. She swings her scythe and asks the unfortunate man to tell stories about flax for an hour. If the farmer is capable and knows his way around, he succeeds and is spared. But if he is less knowledgeable, he dies from the midday woman's "heat stroke".

The Water Sprite in the Spreewald

The rivers in the Spreewald are the realm of the water sprite. According to legend, he lives here with his beautiful daughters. The family also mingles with the rural population. You can recognise the Aquarius by the wet hem of his coat. He likes to trade and the water he controls is valued as the source of life in the Spreewald. The beautiful daughters often dance at folk festivals and then lure many an unsuspecting person into the realm of the mermaids. These and similar legends in the Spreewald also serve as a warning to children about the dangers of the rivers.

The Lutki in the Spreewald

The Lutki are among the smallest inhabitants of the great Spreewald saga world. They live underground because their ears cannot stand the church bells. Sometimes, however, they appear at people's houses to borrow something. The person approached should then be familiar with the linguistic peculiarities of the Lutki. Thus they deny, although they mean the opposite: "We don't want to borrow a baking trough, because we don't want to bake today." Anyone who lends them what they want receives a small loaf of bread when they return it. Another legend in the Spreewald also reports that the Lutki help the women with the economy and clean their houses overnight.

The lucky dragon (Plon) in the Spreewald

When you walk through the Spreewald at dusk, look up in between - you might spot the Plon on the roof of a house or barn. The legend of the lucky dragon or money dragon (Sorbian/Wendish Plon) is still widespread in the Spreewald today. The little Plon lives, if you are lucky, in the attic of a house and has to be fed every day with millet porridge or biscuits by its inhabitants. When the Plon is full and satisfied, he brings wealth and luck to the inhabitants of the house.

The will-o'-the-wisps in the Spreewald

The name Lusatia comes from the Sorbian word "luza", which means puddle, pool, swamp. This refers especially to Lower Lusatia. Swampy ditches, marshy meadows, overgrown marshland fringed by alders and poplars, often accompanied by floods that inundated the entire landscape - this is how the Spreewald once presented itself and brought people sorrow and great danger. When swamp gases rose from the sludge and occasionally ignited, or when rotting tree stumps with luminescent mosses phosphoresced green and the glowing traces of glow-worms flitted through the bushes, the inhabitants believed that all these signs of light were little demons, but that they stood by to help people who had lost their way. Only if they did not receive thanks in the form of a few coins, they sometimes played tricks on the miser.

The Sorben King

Kingdoms pass away. History teaches us that. The Slavic tribes in our region also once had their princes and rulers. Due to the armies of the Germanic tribes advancing from the west, they were engaged in battles for centuries and finally lost their land and rule. Only the Sorbs preserved their language and folklore for over a millennium. We do not know when the figure of a Sorbian king appears in the legend. Nor have any names survived. Only two places in Lusatia are associated with the legends of former Sorbian kings. One of them is the castle hill near Burg, which is said to have served as a refuge for a Sorbian king after he had lost his army and his rule. Here, between water, swamp and forest, he had built himself a castle. It has sunk into the depths of the mountain, and now its treasures are waiting for someone to succeed in lifting them.