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Sharon Carpenter, a regular shopper at The Scrap Box, surprised us recently with the opportunity to see three gorgeous szopki made by her teen-aged students.

“What?” you ask, “are szopki?”

Szopki (pronounced shop-key; singular: shop-ka) are elaborate Nativity scenes. The tradition of building these models started back in the 13th century in Krakow, Poland, and remains an annual tradition where prizes are awarded for the most elaborately decorated and designed Szopki.


Classic Kracovian szopka look like the sort of coloured castle that you’d find in a fairy tale, but their inspiration comes from distinctly local features: the towers of St. Mary’s Church, the Barbican, Wawel Cathedral.

Today the tradition is also carried on among the descendants of the Polish community of Hamtramck, Michigan. The Polish Art Center in conjunction with The Friends of Polish Art sponsor a szopki competition with entries from around SE Michigan.

The Polish Art Center was originally founded in 1958 in downtown Hamtramck as a small Polish import shop. Over time it has into one of the country’s premier emporiums of Polish cultural and traditional goods. It is an important member of the Hamtramck Polish community. In 2004, the center expanded into an adjacent building as an educational center featuring lectures, book signings, folk-art demonstrations, and classes.
In December, they sponsor a szopki competition in conjunction with The Friends of Polish Art.

The Friends of Polish Art was established in 1937 and functions as an educational and social organization, acting as a medium for the promotion of understanding and appreciation of the Arts of Poland, its people and their descendants. These Polish Arts include both the Fine Arts and Liberal Arts.
More information about the szopka competition is coming soon.

Ms. Carpenter’s class on making szopki at her school is full for this fall. The good news is that she has offered to present a class at The Scrap Box especially for us. The date and time has not been set, but isn’t this a wonderful opportunity?

Please comment or use the contact page to let us know if you would be interested in learning how to make your own szopka.

Enjoy this video showing szopki in Krakow:

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