"Jańske rejtowanje"

"Jańske rejtowanje" on June 24
"Jańske rejtowanje" on June 24

The time around Midsummer’s Night is the nature's most powerful period. This is reflected on St. John's Day celebrations on June 24 showing. According to an old belief this day would be the most miraculous of the year. The people believed that curativeness would be caused especially by the Midsummer Night.

Nowadays you can see the "Jańske rejtowanje", a riding procession, only in Casel, a small village near Drebkau. In the middle of the 19th century it was still celebrated in several villages of Lower Lusatia. But not only the locations but also the responsible persons have changed. In former days the village's youth did the job but now it is planned and organised by a special traditions club.

The central figure is "Johann" or "Jan", a man in a fancy dress, personifying the spirit of growth and fruitfulness. You can see that since he is fully covered with flowers and greens, also wearing a crown on his head. This festivity requires substantial efforts to prepare it. Thousands of cornflowers have to be collected in order to make Jan's odd-looking costume. Already on the day before, each girl collects masses of flowers and then plaits wreaths and tendrils some metres long. The young men have to supply water lilies at the crack of dawn in order to complete Jan's crown which is already composed of roses and Carthusian Pinks. The flowers stand for people's vitality and lea's fruitfulness. Cornflowers are also used as medicinal herbs. Water lilies and reeds are signs of the vitally important water.

On the festival's forenoon the maidens begin to dress Jan. Cornflower tendrils are sewn on the garment from the neck down to the knees. Completely decorated, Jan rides from the restaurant to the festival place, accompanied by the village's fellows and a brass band. The riding procession is led by the maidens marching ahead in their white frocks trimmed with blue and red stripes. They take along a second crown which is to present Jan at evening's honouring dance. Having arrived at the festivity area, Jan and his whole attendance ride some rounds through the crowd. Now the companions have a hard job: They have to protect Jan against people making attempts to pull him down the horse in order to loot his flower decoration.