Lajkonik


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Lajkonik

Between May 21 and June 24; first Thursday after Corpus Christi
The most popular folk festival in Krakow, Poland, Lajkonik (or the Horse Festival ) has lost touch with its medieval roots, but is believed to commemorate the horseman who carried the news of the Tartar defeat during the 13th-century Tartar invasions. A group of 18 costumed people gathers in the courtyard of the Norbertine Monastery in a suburb of Krakow. They include a standard-bearer in the traditional dress of a Polish nobleman, a small band of musicians, and a bearded horseman in oriental costume riding a richly draped but rather small wooden hobby-horse. This is the Lajkonik, originally called the Horse or the "Zwierzyniec Horse," named for the town where the monastery is located, and now the unofficial symbol of Krakow.
After performing a ceremonial dance for the vicar and the nuns, the procession leaves the monastery and moves in the direction of the city. The horseman collects money from the crowds lining the streets, tapping each donor with his rod to bring them good luck; they then join the procession. Eventually the parade ends up in the market square for the climax of the ritual. The city officials greet the horseman in front of the town hall. He dances for the assembled dignitaries and receives from them a sack of money and a glass of wine, which he consumes after toasting the well-being of the city.
The festival was first sponsored by the guild that furnished wood to Krakow and the salt mines. In the past the actors came from the Boatman congregation who, since the Middle Ages, have floated timber down the Vistula River to Krakow. Now they tend to be Krakow factory workers.
CONTACTS:
Polish National Tourist Office
5 Marine View Pl., Ste. 208
Hoboken, NJ 07030
201-420-9910; fax: 201-584-9153
www.poland.travel
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 262
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 352
References in periodicals archive ?
Get immersed in the Lajkonik Festival in Krakow to celebrate a folkloric myth going back 200 years, in which an elaborate procession winds its way through the Gothic city with people clad in Mongol robes and fairytale figures along with musical troupes.