Lajkonik Festival is a yearly tradition of Krakow when someone dressed as a Tatar leads a parade through the city. It takes place on the Thursday after Corpus Christi, a Christian religious feast. This year, it happened on June 23rd.
Lajkonik is a bearded warrior from the East, who wears Mongol attire and a pointed hat. He rides a white wooden hobbyhorse. The tradition of the Lajkonik Festival reaches the 13th century, a period of intense invasions of Tatars. Every year on the octave (8th day after) of Corpus Christi a procession of Lajkonik and other people dressed in period oriental costumes marches from the Senatorska street, through the Norbertine monastery and Zwierzyniecka street to the Market Square. It’s believed that if Lajkonik hits you with a mace, it’ll bring you luck for the next year. The Lajkonik also takes ‘tribute’ from the marchers.
The parade started at 12:15 P.M., after the bugle call from the Saint Mary’s Cathedral. At 1:30 P.M. took place a traditional dance with a banner and a reconstruction of a Tatar raid. Later, children’s dance groups presented traditional dances. At 7:30 P.M. started the main ceremony, when city president Jacek Majchrowski gave tribute to Lajkonik. A special attraction this year was the fact that Lajkonik called the eldest person in Lesser Poland – Wanda Szajowska, 111 years old – and told her best wishes on the occasion of her name-day.