Kötzting's Whit Ride
Kötzting's Whit Ride ranks amongst the biggest mounted pilgrimage processions in Europe and goes back to an incident in 1412: A man lay dying in the village of Steinbühl about seven kilometres away from Kötzting and asked for the comfort of the church. But the priest was not prepared to go there without protection. So the young men from Kötzting accompanied the priest spontaneously on his visit to the dying man.
After their return unscathed they vowed to repeat this ride each year. Thus it has been carried down, so that every year on Whit Monday some 900 riders form a procession riding and praying through the blooming Zellertal to Steinbühl on their festively bedecked horses and in old traditional costumes.
At 8 a.m. on Whit Monday, accompanied by the ringing of the church bells, the riders leave the town praying on festively bedecked horses. The procession is led by the cross bearer, followed by lantern bearers, fanfare players, a spiritual officiator with sextons and servers. Riding behind them is the "Whit groom" with his two best men.
The previous year's Whit groom carrying the market town banner, with his best men and representatives of the young men end the official head of the procession. The remaining riders follow. Many of them bear memorial banners that they have received for their long years of participation in this pilgrim ride. One of them carries the venerable county banner. On the way, the riders say their rosaries.
The officiator preaches the gospel at the four stations. At the end of there journey, a church service for the riders is held in St. Nikolaus, the Whit riders' pilgrimage church in Steinbühl. After a rest for the horses and riders the procession returns to Bad Kötzting.