German minority Sorbs celebrate Easter with traditional horse ride

Members of the Slavic minority Sorbs community in eastern Germany saddled up on Sunday (April 5) for a traditional Easter ride.

Across the Upper Lusatia region near the Polish and Czech borders, hundreds of men from the Catholic community donned old-fashioned frock-coats and top hats for the annual pilgrimage from one village to the next, carrying flags, crosses and statues of Jesus in celebration of Easter Sunday.

In the village of Panschwitz-Kuckau, the ride began at the Marienstern Cloister, where a crowd had gathered to watch as the "Osterreiter" (Easter riders) enter the courtyard.

After a priest's blessing the revellers rode in a circle around the courtyard, a tradition said to date back to a time when people hailed the arrival of spring by circling their property on horseback or foot to drive away winter spirits and ask for a good harvest.

The colourful procession then made its way cross country to the village of Crostwitz with the riders praying and singing as they went.

Sorbs have been living in eastern Germany for over 1,000 years, and have retained a distinctive culture and language despite efforts to suppress them under Prussian domination and then Nazi oppression.

Every year hundreds of visitors descend on the region to witness the traditional processions on Easter Sunday.