Now it’s time to get to know one of most peculiar Kraków legends. The Lajkonik is one of the unofficial symbols of the city and it is represented as a bearded man resembling a Tatar in a characteristic pointed hat with a wooden horse around his waist (hobby horse). It is the subject of the Lajkonik Festival. It is an annual event that takes place on the first Thursday after the religious holiday of Corpus Christi.He rides through the city streets from Convent in Zwierzyniec to the Main Market Square. People follow him dressed in traditional folklore dress.
The procession runs its way through the historic streets in the city, followed by musicians and children. On his way the Lajkonik touches spectators with his golden mace and collects money for the traditional ransom. Being touched by Lajkonik’s mace is supposed to bring good luck. At the Market Square, the mayor of the city of Kraków is waiting for the Lajkonik with a pile of ransom money and a chalice with which they make a toast to the wellbeing of Kraków!
Where does this peculiar character hail from? Well, the Lajkonik story stretches all the way back to medieval times, when the Mongol was Poland’s foremost bogey-man. During those days, Tartar hordes sacked Cracow many times, but Genghis Khan did not always get his way….