"Ptaškowa swajźba" - Birds' Wedding

The Birds’ Wedding is a custom that has its roots in the pre-Christian era where people sacrificed food to ancestors' ghosts. They expected to get favour and sympathy from the gods of nature.

In the course of time the sacrificial offerings to the ancestors altered into gift-giving to the children due to decreasing belief in ghosts' potency.

Nowadays the Birds' Wedding is celebrated by children on January 25. The reasons for this date are observations from the flora and fauna. Around about this time several bird species begin to nest and lay eggs. It is the time for people awaiting the awakening spring.

It is said the Lusatian Birds' Wedding comes from the Upper Sorbian language region in which this custom is widely spread in families.

In Lower Lusatia it is celebrated in kindergardens and schools where the children feed the birds during winter. In return for this service they can join in their wedding. That is why they put plates and bowls on the ledge. They get a piece of pastry shaped as a magpie (Sorbian: sroka)

In kindergardens the wedding is celebrated with the magpie as the bride and the raven as the groom (Sorbian: wron). The bridal couple is dressed festively, in most cases with Lower Sorbian costumes while the other children are masqueraded as birds. There is even a song about it which each child is learning in the kindergarden. On this day it is sung, of course.

In contrast, adults prefer folksy evenings with a Birds' Wedding programme executed by the Sorbian National Ensemble.