Ethnic traditions

Easter riding

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The Osterreiten or Osterritt ( SorbianJutrowne jěchanje ; synonym cross riding ) is an old religious rituals in the form of a procession in which the resurrection of Christ is proclaimed. It is still cultivated as a Sorbian custom in the Catholic part of Upper Lusatia . There are also Easter horseback processions in Old Bavaria and Franconia , in Upper Silesia , North Bohemia and Moravia.

Easter riding in the Lausitz

In Upper Lusatia, in the area between the cities of Hoyerswerda , Kamenz and Bautzen , many visitors come to the region every year. Easter riding is also organized in Ostritz near the St. Marienthal monastery . At the end of the 1990s, the old custom was revived at Lübbenau in the evangelical Lower Lusatia .

Easter seed rider from the market in Ostritz to the Marienthal monastery


Ostroer Osterreiter in Nebelschütz

On Easter Sunday , the Catholic men riding a parish in frock coat and cylinder on festively decorated horses in the neighboring community to this to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ rose again. It is customary for the visited church to make a return visit. Each procession, which can consist of up to 450 riders and horses, is traditionally not allowed to cross the other. In addition, the processional routes are deliberately laid out so that it is possible to proclaim the message in as many places as possible. The standard bearers, the bearers of the Christ statue and the cross ride ahead.

Before the procession begins, the Easter service is celebrated together, after which the Easter riders or cross riders (Křižerjo) ride around the local church , are blessed and set out to carry the good news into the country in the form of traditional hymns . The church or the village square of every place through which the train passes is also controversial. Sorbian and Latin hymns are sung; Shortly before the ride and sometimes between the villages there is a loud prayer. The riders of the German part of the procession in the small town of Wittichenau sing and pray in German and Latin, as do the Easter riders from Ostritz to the Marienthal monastery on the Lusatian Neisse.

In the destination community visited, the riders are fed. Before the ride home, people pray together in front of the cemetery or in the church and the riders are also blessed by the pastor.

Since 1983, the end of Easter has been a joint thanksgiving service for all riders in the Rosenthal Church on Easter Tuesday and in the Wittichenau Church .

Horses and riders

The horses , often richly decorated, are sometimes hired from far away. On Holy Saturday these are then brushed and groomed, the manes are washed before braiding; likewise the tail before it is combed and provided with a bow. The bows are decorated with colorful embroidery, often with the Sorbian colors. Black ribbons are used in bereavement. The horse harness is lavishly decorated with shells or metal fittings. In the last few years you can see more and more fresh flowers as jewelry.

If a young man or teenager from the age of 14 takes part in the Easter Riding for the first time, he wears a small green wreath on his chest. At the 25th participation this is a silver wreath, at 50 years a gold one.

History and origin

The origins of Easter riding in pre-Christian times cannot be proven by sources. It is plausible to assume that walking around or walking around the fields in the spring of the pagan Slavs should protect the seeds and the harvest from damage. This not only Slavic custom of petition can be found in many Catholic areas to this day. In connection with Easter this can be seen in Ostro , where the men ride around the fields early in the morning before the actual Easter ride.

The Easter riding as a procession in honor of the risen Christ is considered historically secure in the pre-Reformation period. Elements of medieval ceremonies such as the flags as symbols of rule and the decorated horses refer, according to some, to this time of origin. The Easter riding is integrated into the rich ecclesiastical and rural customs of the Sorbian Catholic Church.

Already at the end of the 15th century there were equestrian processions between Hoyerswerda and Wittichenau. Since 1541 the procession moved from Wittichenau to Ralbitz, because the Reformation had been introduced in Hoyerswerda. This procession couple is the oldest to this day.

After the low point of 1974, when a total of only 487 horsemen took part in all processions, the number of horsemen has consistently been over 1,500 again since 2000.

In 2020, for the first time in several centuries, there were no processions due to the measures imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic . Individual riders nevertheless went from place to place, in many places instead of the processions people sang and prayed together.


Upper Lusatia

There are currently four procession pairs and one procession without a return visit in Catholic Upper Lusatia. The traditional routes are:

The procession of the city of Wittichenau is the only one in which many German (approx. 50%) Easter riders take part. Outside the Sorbian settlement area , there has also been the – also Catholic – custom of the Saatreiter procession between Ostritz and the St. Marienthal monastery since 1628 .

Lower Lusatia

Easter riding in the Silesian Ostropa (Ostroppa)

The Easter riding between Zerkwitz and Klein Radden has only been held (again) for a few years and does not require a return visit. In contrast to the Oberlausitz events, there are also – and even predominantly – female riders at the start.

Easter riding in the Silesian Ostropa (Ostroppa)


  • Easter ride in rain
  • Easter ride from Nabburg to the Maria Brünnl forest church
  • Easter ride (also Georgiritt) in Traunstein

In 2013, Easter riding was revived in the village of Geldersheim , where it also has a long tradition.

Easter riding in the Czech Mikulášovice (2017)

Silesia and the Czech Republic

Easter riding in the Czech Mikulášovice (2017)

The Easter Riding (known locally as Osterritt ) is also widespread in Upper Silesia , also in Czech Silesia and in the northern Czech Schluckenauer Zipfel . The tradition is still cultivated in the Upper Silesian towns of Racibórz ( Ratibor ), Pietrowice Wielkie ( Groß Peterwitz ), Zawada Książęca ( Duke Zawada ), Sternalitz , Bischdorf , Ostropa ( Ostroppa in Gleiwitz ), Bieńkowice ( Benkowitz ) and in the Czech Lukulášovice and Mikulášovice . The ride of kings also has a long tradition in Moravia . Source 1, Source 2

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