Nativity Scenes (szopkas) from an Exhibition in Krakow

Donna's memory of a Christmas experience in Poland


My first visit to Poland was in early December several years ago. My Ciocia (aunt), with whom we were staying in Krakow, sent us to walk to the old center of town. My sister and I were not quite sure what my Ciocia had in mind for us to see, but we obediently dressed warm and walked to the Rynek (Main Market Square). On this day, all people brought their Szopki (nativity scenes) for display, for competition and for a grand parade around the market place.

We could not believe the detailed Nativity scenes - some framed in what appeared to be shoe boxes and others so large that 4 men were struggling to carry the glass-covered work! Some Szopki belonged to adults of all ages, and some belonged to children, who were especially happy to turn around and pose for us to take a picture.

I had admired the colorful foil paper of the Szopki on my Busia's shelf, here in Milwaukee WI, but only thought of them as a souvenir. Until I saw the parade in Krakow, I did not realize the significance and pride that the people place in creating their works of faith, and perhaps with more love than decorating a Christmas tree.

text and photographs by Donna M. Kocinski from New Berlin WI, contact the author by e-mail


Below are some pictures from the Szopki's exhibition
read more about szopki's history in the article Nativity Scenes, Szopka, Silvester



Crowds of people are ready to present their szopkas


Small szopkas are next to the big szopkas




Some Szopki belonged to adults of all ages, and some belonged to children, who were especially happy to turn around and pose for us to take a picture




Szopkas are divided into three categories during the annual competition according to the size - big, medium and the small szopkas are graded separately,
one of the bigger szopka is on the left photo and the small one is on the right photograph


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