Germany’s Sorbs celebrate Zapust festival

Germany's Sorbs celebrate Zapust festival
Photo: Penny Bradfield
The Sorbs, Germany’s small Slavic minority, recently celebrated Zapust, an important cultural festival in the Lausitz region near the Polish border. Photographer Penny Bradfield went to the village of Turnow near Cottbus to catch the spectacle.

Zapust, or Shrovetide, is one of the most popular Sorbian celebrations and it is deeply linked with the working life of the tight-knit community. Traditionally, the festivities would last one week before the spring sowing of the fields and would culminate in a procession.

Click here for a photo gallery of the Zapust procession.

Modern Shrovetide usually consists of a carnival and a parade. Young unmarried couples wear traditional dress – the women and girls in dancing dresses and the men and boys wearing flowers given to them by their female partners.

With musicians leading the way, the procession stops at the homes of distinguished villagers such as the mayor, who makes a symbolic donation to the Zapust collection box. In the evening, a dance is held.

Sorbs are a small Slavic ethnic group of about 60,000 people in the eastern German states of Brandenburg and Saxony. Traditions like Zapust are an important way to help preserve the Sorbian language and culture. The current premier of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, is the most prominent member of the Sorbian community.

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