The Sorbian/Wendish Shrovetide celebration, Zapust, starts shortly after the Epiphany (6th January) and continues until about four weeks before Easter. You can experience this custom in a different village in Lower Lusatia every Sunday of winter. It starts with the young local residents gathering in the village pub. The young women wear traditional dress, and the men don a suit and hat, with those who are single adding colourful flowers, feathers and ribbons to mark their status.
After a short speech by the eldest attendee, a couple of dances are usually held in the hall. The couples then pose for the annual keepsake photo in front of the pub before setting off on their Shrovetide procession. The procession is led by a marching band, with the person at the front carrying a long besom decorated with colourful ribbons or a Turkish crescent.
The Zapust procession travels to different courtyards around the village, mainly visiting villagers who have displayed special commitment to supporting the community. These villagers thank the young people for their visit by providing them with a snack or donating money to their collection box. Each family member is asked for a dance around the courtyard, drinks a schnapps and has a Shrovetide boutonnière pinned to their lapel.
Spectators are also treated to a schnapps by the members of the procession. During the processing, the dancing does not remain in the courtyards, but also breaks out onto the streets. The walk from one end of the village to another can therefore take quite a long time. The procession ends back in the village pub, where a dance is held for all residents in the evening.
Here you can find brief descriptions (in German) of a number of Sorbian customs that are still practised in the present day. Visit