The Krakow Nativity is a unique form of nativity. It is on UNESCO list of intangible world heritage. Called szopka Krakowska in Polish it has originated in the first half of the 19th century in Krakow by the bricklayers and construction workers idled by the severe Polish winters. They created fanciful nativities from cardboard, foil paper and beads. Krakow nativities, while showing the eternal story of Christ’s birth, instead of locating the Holy Family in the manger it places it within miniaturized elements of Krakow’s architecture and landmarks, and populates it with Krakow’s unique legends and folklore.
The bricklayers traditionally brought their nativities to Krakow’s main square to share with the city people and hopefully to sell. Bringing the Krakow Nativity to the main square became a tradition and they are always brought and presented by the Adam Mickiewicz monument there on the first Thursday in December. In 1937 a Krakow Nativity competition was started, which has continued to this day with a short interruption during WWII. The nativities are judged, the most beautiful Krakow Nativities are awarded prizes and exhibited for 2-3 months at the Krakow’s Museum. The Krakow Nativities offered here are either the winning entries from the Yearly competition or copies of these same nativities made by the artists.