Polish Christmas traditions: nativity scenes (szopki) in Lublin

Polish ‘szopki’ (nativity barns/huts) are a huge part of the Christmas tradition in Poland. While continuing the festive spirit, we’ve been exploring the nativity scenes around Lublin this Christmas, and we’ve found a few very nice ones.

The tradition of these nativity scenes came with the St Francis order from Italy to Poland in 1223 (they are often set up near the St Francis churches), some of which had live animals and actors at the time – a tradition that is also practiced around Poland, this year Krakow showed off its own version with actors & artists singing Christmas carols inside the ‘szopka’.

This one is from the oldest church in Lublin, the Dominican Church in the old town, dating back from 1342. I really liked the simplicity of it with baby Jesus in the hay and Mary in the centre, two beautiful Christmas trees either side and a bright star shining high above (the church itself is a must to visit for the beautiful architecture! 🙂 ).

Festive altar in Dominican Church, Lublin
Festive altar in Dominican Church, Lublin

This one is a lovely little nativity from the local church in LSM in Lublin – with the compulsory angel statue where you put your donations…. as you drop the money in, the angel nods his head in approval 🙂

Nativity scene in LSM church, Lublin
Nativity scene in LSM church, Lublin

This one is from the old town, there’s normally one larger nativity scene in town where people can walk around, few years ago there was one with live animals but now they’re getting more modern and done by local artists and art schools (some people prefer traditional old school ones).

Szopka/ Nativity in Lublin Old Town
Szopka/ Nativity in Lublin Old Town by Dominican church
Old Town Nativity Scene, Lublin
Old Town Nativity Scene, Lublin

And last but not least is the nativity scene at the main Lublin Cathedral by the Old Town, dating from 1585 (which was visited by Pope John Paul 25 years ago) 🙂

Nativity in the Lublin Cathedral
Nativity in the Lublin Cathedral

Read more about LublinPoland and Polish traditions on inlovewithpoland.com.

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