Sent by Angela, a postcrosser from Poland.
This is from Wikipedia : The Lajkonik is one of the unofficial symbols of the city of Kraków, Poland. It is represented as a bearded man resembling a Tatar in a characteristic pointed hat, dressed in Mongol attire, with a wooden horse around his waist. It is the subject of the Lajkonik Festival (Polish: Lajkoniki) that takes place each year on the first Thursday after the religious holiday ofCorpus Christi.
The origin of the Lajkonik is uncertain, but there are some common stories associated with its popularity. Some think that it originated in pre-Christian times when it was believed that in the spring the horse brought good luck and high crop yields.
Other stories are associated from the 13th century, when the city was attacked during the Mongol invasion of Poland. One, likely counterfactual story, says that the people of Kraków successfully repelled the Tatar invasion. Because they killed one of the leaders, a Tatar Khan, the victorious defenders dressed up in the Khan’s clothing and triumphantly rode into the city.
Another version recalls that the Tatars arrived at the city gates at night in 1287, but chose not to attack the city until morning and instead camped along the Vistula. Some locals transporting wood on the river saw them and decided to play a joke on the city. They entered the city gates and dressed up like Tatars on horses trying to scare people into thinking the gates were breached. To the relief of the people of the city their true identity was soon discovered and the incident's popularity led the mayor to declare this to be an annual celebration.