Szopki Report

The Polish American Cultural Center and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council want to congratulate Dave Motak for his excellent presentation on the medieval folk custom of szopka construction.

The demonstrations took place on Friday, November 4th, and Saturday, November 5th, in St. Adalbert School in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Mr. Motak had the opportunity to introduce 37 elementary school students and 16 parents and grandparents to the history and construction of miniature crèches, a custom that originated in Krakow, Poland in the Middle Ages. Students from St. Adalbert, St. Laurentius, Pope John Paul II Regional, and St. Adalbert Polish Language Schools participated.

At first, large Szopki were used as stages for puppet shows to teach moral lessons. In more recent times, they were used to criticize oppressive regimes that had invaded Poland. Although original szopki were modeled after the traditional Christmas manger scene, they eventually took on the appearance of a triple-spired cathedral. Mr. Motak brought this folk art to life for the participants, who had words of high praise for his workshop. Besides learning a great deal about Polish history, children and adults alike joined in producing a miniature szopka of their very own. The Polish American Cultural Center Museum thanks Dave Motak for keeping Polish heritage alive.