In the past, jasełka (nativity scenes) were called the Bethlehem nursery, then figurines related to the birth of Christ, and from the 16th century a folk spectacle related to Christmas. In the biography of Bishop Grzegorz of Sanok, Filippo Buonaccorsi wrote about nativity plays in Franciscan churches:

On Christmas Day, they put up an ox, a donkey and a nursery with a baby in the church.

According to historians, the first nativity play took place on the initiative of Saint Francis in 1223. At the end of the 18th century, the nativity play was developed by the puppet theater. The Franciscans and Capuchins were the first in Krakow to introduce movable figures, e.g. death fighting the devil. Despite the great popularity of nativity plays, the church banned them, which contributed to the creation of performances called szopka.

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