What keeps people together? Their traditions, their customs, their culture and their songs, tales and legends – in a nutshell, everything that defines the very soul of a population. The smaller the community, the stronger the sense of community and the deeper the cultural roots are etched into people’s memories. Famous composers, artists and authors, virtuoso musicians and talented actors have certainly allowed the Sorbs to blossom. That said, culture already has strong foundations throughout the entire Sorbian people – in normal families and among young and old alike. The Sorbian traditions are preserved according to old customs and have remained active right through to the present day.
The Wendish Shrovetide celebration marks the end of the winter work carried out in the local spinning room. Zapust is the most famous winter tradition in the Spree Forest.
Easter singing is an extremely old Sorbian custom that has almost disappeared in many locations. On Easter Eve, girls and young women parade through the streets, singing songs to proclaim the resurrection of Christ.
In many villages in Lusatia, a maypole is erected the evening before 1st May. The sport of maypole throwing is the highlight of Maytide customs in Upper Lusatia.
“Hahnschlagen” (rooster beating) is believed to be an older form of Sorbian summer ‘rooster games’. The custom is still performed in a somewhat modified form today, for example using a saucepan rather than a rooster.
The traditional practice of “Hahnrupfen” (rooster plucking), an old Sorbian harvest custom, is a popular contest among young men.
„Is it true that...?“
... Sorbs receive a large (or even excessive) amount of money from the government?
The Foundation for the Sorbian People receives as much as one single municipal theatre in German, with funds also coming from Sorbian taxpayers.
... Sorbs have a different identity card, or theirs contains different information?
Sorbs are German citizens and have the same official documents as all other citizens of Germany.
... Sorbs don’t accept outsiders into their inner circles.
The proverbial Sorbian hospitality paints a different picture.
... only boys/men are allowed to be Easter riders?
Yes, because that’s the traditional custom and the women like to admire them.
... Sorbs are only allowed to marry each other?
Sorbs are free to marry whomever they want.
... you can only get a job at a Sorbian institution if you have the right connections?
Yes, connections to the language – you should be able to speak Sorbian. After all, you can't work for the British Council without speaking English either.
... true Sorbian life only takes place in villages/rural locations?
Maybe, but German traditions don’t tend to be all that prominent in city-centre shopping locations either!
... every Sorb receives funding from the government?
If we look at the example of Easter rider attire, which costs around 2,000 euros, every rider has to pay for it themselves or borrow the various garments, with no external funding.
... all Sorbs are rich?
Definitely! They are rich in languages, which enable them to easily communicate and cooperate with both their German and Slavic neighbours.
... the Sorbs have their own typical cuisine?
Yes, for example wedding soup and horseradish soup accompanying boiled beef.
... all Sorbs are Catholic?
Nearly all of the Sorbs in the administrative association “Am Klosterwasser” are Catholic, but in Lusatia on the whole, Catholics are the minority group. The Protestant Church is more prominent in Lower Lusatia.
... Sorbian is now only spoken in and around Kamenz, Bautzen and Hoyerswerda?
Sorbian is spoken wherever people choose to use it, so can also be found in Berlin, Prague, the Spree Forest, etc.
... all Sorbs know each other?
Only when they happen to meet up on holiday – Lusatia is too big to know everyone.
... city Sorbs are different to village Sorbs?
Many Sorbs are “village Sorbs” as a child, “city Sorbs” as young people and then “village Sorbs” again when they grow up and start a family.
... Sorbs in the Sorbian settlement area can insist upon speaking Sorbian when communicating with public officials?
They can indeed – but they cannot be expected to be answered in Sorbian at all times and in all locations.
The strength of the Sorbian family
The strength of Sorbian families can be seen in the traditions that they actively cultivate. In Sorbian life, the family forms the focus of every task or activity. And if 86 guests attend a golden wedding anniversary celebration, this actually means that only the closest relatives were able to make it! In his article in the magazine “Für Vielfalt” (published by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP)), the author Marcel Braumann reflects on his own experiences in the Sorbian world. You can read about his surprising findings in the article (in German) here. Visit
The best way to explore Lusatia is on two wheels. The region is home to an outstanding well-developed network of cycle paths leading through extensive landscapes to locations steeped in history and legend. With its warm and friendly hospitality, culture and joie de vivre, Lusatia offers its visitors plenty to do during what is sure to be a wonderful stay. The various routes guide cyclists through Upper or Lower Lusatia, tracing the footsteps of the legendary sorcerer’s apprentice Krabat or whisking them away into the world of churches and crosses. What are you waiting for? It’s time to saddle up! You can find the best tips for your bicycle tour (in German) here. Visit