The Shrove Monday Run
Warding off the evil spirits
The Shrove Monday Run is one of the oldest traditions in Krakau. The race was originally staged to scare away the demons of the winter with a great deal of noise and commotion. Each of the three Krakau villages stages its own race in alternate years.
In Krakaudorf and Krakauebene the race is held every odd year. In Krakauschatten in the even years (2011 in Krakaudorf and Krakauebene, 2012 in Krakauschatten).
The women's roles are also played by men, the costumes are as colourful as the atmosphere and the spectacle is well worth seeing. The race starts at dusk when feather-costumed men chase young lads in short Lederhosen, long-johns a belt full of bells and a pointed hat. As the chase continues through the streets the men have to jump over chains spanned across the street.
The colourful costumed men, the "Beautiful Spirits" are followed by a horde of villagers in fancy dress including a doctor, a scissor grinder, hairdresser and the main group consisting of a stable boy, horse dealer and a horse (naturally played by two costumed men).
This long standing, traditional custom starts in the early hours of the morning, each house in the village is visited, but the festival must be ended by the time evening mass begins otherwise the legend states that the devil will come and snatch the horse.