The Nowodworski Foundation’s Fifth Krakow Nativity Scene Competition and the First International Christmas Carols Competition took place on January 13

The 5th Krakow Nativity Scene Competition and the First International Christmas Carols Competition

Thanks to the kindness of the Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Adrian Kubicki, on Saturday, January 13, the final of the 5th edition of the Nativity Scene Competition and the First International Christmas Carols Competition took place in the hospitable premises of the Consulate General. The organizer of both competitions is the Nowodworski Foundation.

These two competitions are intertwined in theme and atmosphere around Christmas. There were nativity scenes referring to our Christmas tradition and containing elements of old Krakow architecture.

According to scientific research, religious theater was known in Europe at the beginning of the 10th century, but the exact description of such a performance, called nativity play, dates back to 1223, when St. On Christmas Day, Francis organized a nativity play. The nativity scene came to Poland later, in the 14th century.

In the beginning, the figures were stationary. Over the years and the development of technology, the figures began to move. Secular characters were also introduced.

Although nativity scenes were built in various cities and villages throughout the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, it was in Krakow that it developed the most, creating an easily recognizable style. It has been widely known since the 19th century.

In 2018, UNESCO recognized the Krakow nativity scene as intangible cultural heritage.

The initiator of the Nativity Scene Competition is Jerzy Leśniak – President of the Nowodworski Foundation, who, remembering from childhood the beautiful nativity scenes made by his father and watching nativity scene competitions together in Krakow, thought that it was high time that other Polish children, especially those living far from the Old Homeland and traditions, , had a chance to have similar experiences. And even more – to create a beautiful nativity scene together with your immediate family or classmates, and so the first Nativity Scene Competition was held in 2019.

The nativity scenes were assessed by the Judging Committee consisting of: Janusz Skowron, painter and graphic artist – Chairman, Zosia Żeleska-Bobrowski, photographer, architect from Krakow, Kinga Leśniak, architect and Janusz Obst, painter, sculptor.

The Christmas Carols Competition was judged by the jury: Dr. Małgorzata Kellis – opera singer, soprano, performing in the most outstanding concert halls in the world, in many opera houses. Taking part in international music festivals. Former director of the M. Sembrich International Competition in New York. Jury member of many international vocal competitions, including: in China and Hong Kong. She taught solo singing, music history and theory at Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa. Author of the first transliteration of the Polish language and many music reviews.

Prof. Charles Kellis, professor emeritus of the Julliard School.

Stan Borys, a legend of Polish song and sung poetry.

Nicholas Kaponyas, a famous Polish-American pianist who has already performed in prestigious concert halls, a graduate of the Mannes School of Music, piano department, conductor and cultural animator.

The ceremonial evening was opened by: the initiator of the competitions, Jerzy Leśniak, and Vice-consul, Krzysztof Płaski. Jerzy Leśniak said that he is glad that each year the range of participants is expanding, the competition is becoming more intense, the size and beauty of the nativity scenes are increasing and delighting the eyes of viewers. Parish priest of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr in Manhattan, Michał Czyżewski, led the prayer.

Then, the President of the Nowodworski Foundation, Jerzy Leśniak, presented diplomas to the creators of the winning nativity scenes, collages, paintings and drawings. The faces of all the authors of the nativity scenes showed pride and joy.

Then Dr. Małgorzata Kellis spoke, chairman of the jury of the Christmas Carols Competition. She said a few words about the history of Christmas carols and the idea of establishing a Christmas Carols Competition. After this short speech, diplomas and medals were awarded to the winners. Each of them performed two Christmas carols.

Catherine Mary Karcz won in the age category for children from 5 to 9 years old. An interesting fact was that she accompanied herself on the harp.

Manami Baba, a Japanese girl (11 years old), won in the age group of children from 10 to 13 years old. She lives in Washington. She discovered her passion for music only 3 years ago. He is learning to play the piano and sing.

Jakub Polaczyk, a famous composer, heard it a month ago at the Polish-Slavic Center and composed a carol entitled “I wish you everything well”, in which words in three languages were intertwined: Polish, Japanese and English.

Second place in the same age category went to Paula Adriana Kozicz, who has already made several public appearances.

First place in the youth category (from 14 to 18 years old) went to Kamila Karpowicz, who takes part in many competitions and studies at Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and Performing Arts in New York.

At the end, the Polonia Children’s Choir, led by Dominik Grzyb, sang Christmas carols and rehearses at the parish of Our Lady of Consolation in Brooklyn.

Then, the guests were invited to take a photo with the nativity scenes and to enjoy refreshments prepared by the Pierożek Restaurant.

The author of the texts and photos for the journal about the history of Krakow Nativity Scenes and the competition in the United States is Zosia Żeleska-Bobrowski.

The Nativity Scene Competition received 18 models (3-D) in five age categories, with over sixty participants taking part. In the category Painting, Drawing, Collage (2-D) 29 works.

In assessing the works, the judges scored the reflections of Krakow’s old architecture, colors, puppets, lighting, mechanization and innovation, and in the case of 2-D works – composition.

Results of the Krakow Nativity Scenes Competition 2023


Category 1: Individual work under 10 years
1st place — Amelia Góra 9
2nd place — Jakub Przybylski 9
3rd place Ex aequo — Oonma Kreitler 4
3rd place Ex aequo — Elan Leśniak-Fong 3
4th place — Skrzaty-Gromadka Krasnoludki 5-6

Category 2: Individual work 10–18 years old
1st place – Cynthia Sadowski 11
2nd place — Natalia Sokołowski 7 (with/parents)
3 Ex aequo — Sara Grygiel 15
3rd place Ex aequo Veronika Lończak 15
4th place – Denis Vintonyak 10

Category 3: Individual work. Adults
1st place Ex aequo — Małgorzata Czajkowski

1st place Ex aequo — Jolanta Kret

Category 4: Group/family work, youngest participant under 10 years old
1st place — Zuchy-gromada Polskie Rydze and parents, 7-11
2nd place — Alek Orlicki-So, Klara Orlicki-So, Jeremy Orlicki-So / 8,10,13
3rd place Ex aequo — David Górnicki, Ewelina Górnicki 9
3rd place Ex aequo — Nikola Stelmach, 10 years old

Category 5: Group/family work, youngest participant over 10 years old
1st place — Amelia Korovae, Sara Korovae, Jackob Regent Liliana Suś, Julia Korovae, Sophie Suś 8-14
2nd place – Girl Scouts – Górski Las Team 11-14


Category 1: Child labor under 10 years
1st place – Adam Kalinowski
8 years 2nd place — Dominika Cieśluk 7 years old
3rd place — Adel Helena Pajda, 8 years old
Honorable Mention – Grace Leverich 4 years
Honorable Mention – Clara Leverich 6 years old

Category 2: Child labor under 10-18 years
1st place Ex aequo — Amelia Ginter, 11
1st place Ex aequo — Yendrek Mądry, 15
2nd place — Gabriela Szacka, 12th
3rd place Ex aequo — Adam Prusaczyk, 10th
3rd place Ex aequo — Maja Kłosowiak, 10

Category 3: Adults
Honorable Mention – Anita Maksimiuk

Author & Photographer: Zosia Zeleska-Bobrowski

Jerzy Leśniak organizer

Vice-consul Krzysztof Płaski and Jerzy Leśniak organizer

guests, in the center scoutmasters: Małgorzata Olszewska, Grażyna Mościcki, Maria Bielska

guests, Nicholas Kaponyas, Anna Skowron, Janusz Skowron, Stan Borys, Anna Maleady,
Vice-consul Krzysztof Płaski, Marian Żak

Father Michał Czyrżewski, parish priest of parish priest of St. Stanislaw Kostka and Męczennika in Manhattan, 7 St.

scoutmaster Małgorzata Olszewska, in front children in category 1 up to 10 years old, Elan Leśniak-Fong
, Amelia Góra, Jakub Przybylski, Oonma Kreitler, Skrzaty- Gromadka Krasnoludki

category 4 children Zuchy Gromada Polskie Rydze (7-11 years old), with parents, Aleksandra Idec, Alek, Klara, Jeremy Orlicki with parents, & Scoutmaster Grażyna Mościcki

category 4 children Zuchy Gromada Polskie Rydze (7-11 years old)
with parents, scoutmaster Grażyna Mościcki, David, Ewelina Górnicki

Category 5 family/groups 10-18 years old, Górski Las Team, with Scoutmaster Małgorzata
Olszewska, Emilia Idec kneeling

2D style drawing, painting, collage – Category 1 to 10 years old, Grace and Clara Leverich
distinctions, Adam Klinowski 1st place, Adel Pajda 3rd place

2D style drawing, painting, collage – Category 2 10-18 years old, Yendrek Madry, Adam
Prusaczyk, Amelia Ginter, Gabriela Szacka, Maja Kłosowiak


Jerzy Leśniak, organizer and Dr. Margaret Kellis

The jurors of the Christmas carol competition are Dr. Margaret Kellis, Nicholas Kaponyas, sitting Professor Charles
Kellis, Stan Borys.

Judges of the Christmas carols competition and winners Catherine Mary Karcz, Manami Baba, Kamila Karpowicz, Paula Kozicz

the jurors of the Christmas carols competition are: Dr. Małgorzata Kellis, Nicholas Kaponyas, Ania Maleady
(volunteer), Jerzy Leśniak organizer, sitting: prof. Charles Kellis, Stan Boris

Catherine Mary Karcz, performs the Christmas carol Silent Night

Manami Baba (11yo), Japan

Manami Baba, Japan, accompaniment by Kikuko Baba

Polonia Choir with director Dominik Grzyb and organizer Jerzy Leśniak

group photo of organizers, winners and guests

1st prize nativity scene by Małgorzata Czajkowski, category 3

author of the nativity scene, Jolanta Kret with her work, 1st prize cat 3

Emilka, one of the authors of the work done by Skrzaty Gromadka Krasnoludki

authors of 2 featured works 2d Grace (4yrs) and Klara (6yrs) Leverich