“Maibaumwerfen” and “Hexenbrennen”: Sorbian culture from the Lausitz region in Leipzig


Sorbian culture is a fixed component of Leipzig as a place of study. With their traditional festivals this year, Sorbian students brought a piece from the Lausitz to Leipzig again. 

Every May, people in the Sorbian Lausitz traditionally celebrate the "Maibaumwerfen" (throwing maypoles) – a custom which is perpetuated by the Sorbian students far away from home as well, namely in their place of study Leipzig. This year again saw a little festival where the "Maibaumwerfen" was celebrated, organised by the student club "Sorabija Lipsk e.V.". After the maypole was thrown, the students celebrated their Sorbian tradition with a dance in their traditional costumes and Sorbian music. 

Beforehand, the maypole was built up during the so-called "Hexenbrennen" (meaning something like "burning witches") on April 30, to welcome May. By symbolically burning a witch figurine, winter and all bad things from the past year should be banished. The "Sorabija Lipsk e.V." invited other Leipzig student clubs to this festival as well for a joint volleyball tournament and subsequent celebration. 

Sorbian life and works have a long tradition in Leipzig and especially at the university, the roots reach back to the 18th century. Today's institute for Sorbian studies was founded on 6 September, 1951, and the subject of Sorbian Studies which includes Sorbian language and literature still can be studied at Leipzig University, which is unique in Germany..

The 7th and 8th floor of the Student Hall of Residence in the Arno-Nitzsche-Straße is named after the famous Sorbian poet Handrij Zejler since its solemn inauguration on 16 May, 2011. Thereby living together and having a home outside the Lausitz is enabled for the Sorbian students – and thus there is the possibility to maintain their traditions and speak the Sorbian language. 

Today about 20 Sorbian students live on the both floors in the Student Hall of Residence Arno-Nitzsche-Straße. Most of them are teacher trainees in Leipzig, mostly with Sorbian studies as well as medicine or law. Witajće k nam – welcome to Leipzig!