SZOPKA KRAKOWSKA - The Krakow Christmas Creche
In Poland, the szopka is a portable Christmas crib or manger scene carried by young boys around their village or neighborhood. In exchange for the caroling and entertainment they provide, the boys receive a few coins or, even better, some tasty holiday treats from their hosts. After going from house to house in their own neighborhood, they sometimes parade into other sections of town or even different villages.
By far the most elaborate szopkas are those from the city of Krakow. Modeled after the great Mariacki (St. Mary's) basilica in Krakow's main square, this form of szopka is decorated with brightly colored foils. However humble or intricate, the portable crib always portrays the mysteries of the birth of the Infant Jesus.