Celebrating Christmas in Poland is a wonderful thing. We have unique customs, delicious food and beautifully decorated streets covered in snow. Everyone awaits Christmas for both, religious reasons and to simply engage in the cosy atmosphere of family gatherings. There is a lot more to do on Christmas in Poland apart from long hours of dining, but if you find yourself invited to a traditional Christmas dinner, you are in for a treat! Christmastime atmosphere extends through the whole month, so there are a lot of things to do in Krakow in December.
Things to do in Krakow in December
A unique Krakow custom around Christmas is the contest of Szopki. Szopka is a colourful, sleek, multilevel tower that presents the scene of Nativity combined with significant elements of Krakow’s architecture. Ever since the 19th century, the people of Krakow create those original towers and compete for the most beautiful one. Every year, on the first Thursday of December, contestants show their Szopki at the feet of Adam Mickiewicz Monument, where the winner is selected by the jury. Later the marvellous Szopki are displayed in nearby Krzysztofory Palace.
Another great thing to do in Krakow in December is participating in Christmas Market. Each year the Main Market Square houses rows of wooden stalls selling traditional Polish Christmas decorations and serving mulled wine with grilled sausages and pierogi. Polish food is at its best at Christmas!
You can also spot vendors selling the symbol of Christmas in Poland, opłatek – a white unleavened wafer decorated with religious imagery. Sharing them with everyone with wishes of Happy Christmas starts the festive dinner on December 24th. Christmas Market is also accompanied by carols sing-alongs. There are smaller Christmas Markets taking place in other than the Old Town districts of Krakow.
As Christmastime is for many primarily religious in character, especially in Poland, so there is a lot going on in the Catholic Church. On Christmas Eve, December 24th St. Francis Basilica holds the annual “Live Nativity Scene” with hundreds of spectators, live animals and warm bonfire.