Lajkonik

There are two symbols of Krakow, one is the dragon and the other the Lajkonik; a polish timber rafter dressed as a Mongol or tartar invader.  In June of 1287 theTartarr invaders set up base in a convent just outside of Krakow in the town of Zwierzyniec.  Their plan was to spend the night and invade Krakow in the early hours of the next morning.  Zwierzyniec lies along the Vistula river and the polish timber rafters noticed the Mongol intruder, thus in the middle of the night surprised them with an attack that left no one spared.  The leader of the timber rafters came up with an idea to play a trick on the people of Krakow.  The band of timber rafters would dress up like their Mongol foes and pretend to invade the city of Krakow.  Before the city could ring the alarm they revealed their true identities as polish lumber rafters.  To this day to honor those brave poles the week after Corpus Christi a fellow Cracovian appointed by the mayor plays the role of the Lajkonik, and dresses in mongol dress.  At 12:00 PM he begins a parade from the Norbetan convent in Zwierzyniec and heads towards Krakow’s main square arriving at 7:00PM.  The reason for his tardiness is that he stops at all the bars, restaurants, and cafes along the route to have a drink with the owner as a sign of a prosperous year.  Not to mention that he is surrounded by children during the parade who want to get hit on the head by his club to give them luck.  This year’s arrival was marked with cheer and rosy cheeks on the one dressed as the Lajkonik.

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