The next meeting of TPGS will be held on Saturday, March 21st from 10 am to noon. Meetings are held at St. Michael School, 420 Sandusky Street. This month’s speaker is Donna Christian. All are welcome!
The schedule for TPGS meetings for the remainder of the year is:
Saturday, April 18 – Monthly Meeting from 10am to 12pm – Show and Tell
My Trip to Poland by TPGS Members.
Saturday, May 16 – Special Event – Field Trip
Calvary Cemetery Tour featuring Prominent Poles
Saturday June 20 Monthly Meeting from 10 am – 12 pm
DNA presentation by Bob Smith
July 10 – July 12 LAGRANGE STEET POLISH FESTIVAL
July 26 – TPGS Annual Picnic at St. Michael’s
August 15 & 16 – Book Fair hosted by TPGS at the 577 Foundation
Saturday, September 19 Monthly Meeting from 10 a.m. – 12 noon.
Monroe County Library’s genealogy resources by Mary Vergowven
Michigan PGS website by Marlene Hardman
Saturday, October 17 Meeting from 10 a.m. – 12 noon – Polish Heritage Month
How many relatives have you met since you joined TPGS?
This year PACT will have a shopka in the Toledo Holiday Parade.
by Stas Kmiec
Mention the word szopka (creche) or jaselka (nativity play) to someone born in Poland long ago, and you will see a spark of joy light up in their eyes. They recall the live nativity scenes, puppet shows, pageant plays and shimmering fairy tale castle-like scenes of their youth.
The Christmas creche is common to all of the Christian faith, but the szopka is unique to Poland. The szopka, once a humble peasant pleasure, has become a recognized Polish institution. A truly Polish Christmas celebration is not complete without some form of this scene.
The custom originated with St. Francis of Assisi, who set the first Nativity tableau in 1223. It was brought to Poland by Franciscan monks around the 13th century. The earliest sign of a manager scene in Poland was in St. Andrew’s church in Kraków. The first crìches were quite simple and portable, but eventually monks took on the roles of the figurines, with the exception of the infant and animals, and developed a living nativity.
Dialogue crept in and eventually the jaselka play developed. The monks were replaced by peasants, students, artisans and even the nobility. Figures from history, local tradition and legend, such as Pan Twardowski were added for national color. Allegorical figures such as the devil and smierc (death) carrying a scythe soon appeared, along with Biblical figures, such as, the Holy Family and King Herod.
The still managers became filled with multi-figure compositions. In addition to the Biblical figures and animals, Polish peasants in their regional finery and whole armies accompanying the three kings were displayed.
By the eighteenth century these figures were moveable. Stringed marionettes or stick puppets replaced the static figures. The performances presented two types of integrated plots: a Biblical one telling the Nativity story and a lay one of traditional, folk and satirical nature.
Still taking place in church, it was soon realized that the excitement of such an entertainment had gotten out of hand. In 1736 these plays were banned from the churches by Bishop Teodor Czartoryski, permitting only immobile scenes of a strictly Biblical Christmas. Both the live and puppet shows now were passed down to the people, who included them in the ritual of caroling (kolednicy). Following the ban the performances evolved into a true expression of folk art.
The live Jaselka became a traveling show beginning on St. Stephen’s day (December 26). The Bethlehem locale, was now set in Poland. Original characters and much of the traditional dialogue were preserved, but in the hands of artists and students it became a mirror of community life, with political satire and local anecdotes added in. Key moments were preserved, such as the well- known scene between King Herod and the devil. The devil triumphantly exclaims in retribution for Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, “Królu Herodzie za twe zbytki, chodz do piekla, bos ty brzydki” (King Herod for your wicked ways come with me to hell because you are deplorable). This scene was extremely popular with the audience.
In literature and theater, the plays were made famous by such authors as Lucjan Rydel (Betlejem Polskie) and Leon Schiller (Szopka Krakowska and Pastoralka), and continue to appear in the repertoire of professional theater companies in Poland to this day.
Throughout the 18th century, native artisans were making crìches that were distinctively Polish in architectural design, folk costume and motif. Each region developed its own unique design, but it was in Kraków that it developed into a high art.
By the 19th century several elements defined the szopka’s shape, finding inspiration in the existing structures of Kraków. The stable’s roof was covered by a second story and was flanked by two towers. The two towers eventually resembled the Kosciól Mariacki (St. Mary’s Church) and the central Renaissance dome was reminiscent of Wawel Castle’s Zygmunt Chapel. By the end of the 19th century the stable was moved to the second floor and bottom floor was filled with figuures of folklore and history.
The outbreak of World War I brought an end to the szopka, when Austrian occupation forces prohibited home-to-home caroling accompanied by a szopka. Due to the change in political climate after Poland had regained its independence in 1918, it seemed this form of folk art would disappear entirely. A Jaselka was staged at a Kraków theater in 1923 and this sparked a revival of sorts. Szopki were made and sold as souvenirs. The city’s municipal authorities decided to save this decaying tradition by announcing the first competition in December of 1937. Eighty-six cribs were entered. With the exception of the wartime period of 1939-1944 the competitions have become an annual holiday tradition with a magnitude of entrants. Kraków hosts the competition in the central Rynek (marketplace) Square. The puppet shows survive to this day as popular entertainment and are included in this event, as well.
Pictured: City Councilman Tom Winiewski, PACT President Stan Machosky,
Toledo Mayor Michael Collins and PACT Vice-President, Matt Zaleski.
From the Toledo Blade, Monday, August 11, 2014:
The second annual Polka Party Picnic offered far more than the expected polka dancing and kielbasa meal at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon.
At the event, the Polish -American Community of Toledo, or PACT, announced plans to launch a $1million capital campaign to raise funds to establish a Toledo area Polish-American Community Center.
“A major issue is that the churches formed by some of the first Poles who came to Toledo are slowly closing”, said Toledo Polish Genealogical Society and PACT member Marge Stefanski. “Many believe some of the Polish heritage in the community is being lost in the process.”
“We need to keep the heritage going by passing it on to the young crowd,” Stan Machosky, PACT Board President said. “We need a place to assemble to transfer this to the young.”
To read the entire article, go to http://www.toledoblade.com/Culture/2014/08/11/Poles-set-sights-on-1M-center.html
Thanks you to St. Hyacinth and St. Charles for giving PACT this venue to launch this campaign. It is with the interest of the entire Polish population of Toledo and North West Ohio that this endeavor is being started.
American Originals: Northwest Ohio’s Polish Community at Home, Work, Worship, and Play is the latest book to be published by the University of Toledo Press.
The 258 page work presents a glimpse into the history of one of Toledo’s most important ethnic groups.
“The book is a mix of the broader themes that have shaped our community with the actual lives that Polish-Americans recall–sometimes remembered with pain, more often with joy, and always with the respect for the accomplishments of the families, friends and neighbors,” said Timothy Borden, editor of the book. “These are the histories of true American originals, who found a proper home for their ideals in the Polish-American community of northwest Ohio.”
The book includes several chapters by Borden, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Indiana University Bloomington. Others with chapters include David Chelminski, Dorothy Stohl, Jane Armstrong-Hudiburg, Sarah Miller, William Samiec, and Margaret Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk.
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur also contributed a chapter on the history of her Polish family, including the story of her father, Steve, who was known in the community as “Kappy.” Kappy began his career as a trucker and produce dealer in the 1930’s, and in the 1950’s, he and his wife Anastasia, opened the Supreme Market in Rossford. The market sold Polish specialty items. Kaptur also recounts several trips she made to Poland to visit the homeland of her ancestors, and how moved she was by the Polish people and the tales of their struggles throughout history.
The book also looks at the artistic expressions of Toledo’s Polish community in its polka music. The chapter by Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk looks at some of the beloved polka bands that played in many venues around Toledo. It includes interviews with some of the bands’ leaders and discusses the evolution of Toledo’s polka music. A listing of polka recordings by Toledo bands is also included. In addition, Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk discusses the influential Toledo Polish music radio show hosted for years by Chet Zablocki, assisted by his wife Helen, and then after Helen’s death, by his second wife, Sharon.
Other chapters look at Polish wedding traditions, the role of local Catholic sisters in educating the new immigrants to Toledo, and the experience of those growing up in Toledo’s two Polish neighborhoods–Kuhschwantz and Lagrinka. “American Originals is an important contribution to Toledo’s history and is also a fascinating read for anyone who is a part of the Polish community, or just an admirer,” Barbara Floyd, director of the UT Press said.
The book is for sale from the UT Press website: www.utoledopress.com, at Barnes & Noble at The University of Toledo, or by contacting Barbara Floyd, at 419-530-2170.
For more information about the book, or to schedule interviews with the authors, contact Floyd.
We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for our bus trip to Hamtramck. Once we arrived, tour guide Greg Kawalski gave our group a tour of St. Florian Church. Then it was on to the bakery to pick up some sweet treats and then to the Polonia Restaurant for a Polish lunch. Eddie Paz serenaded the group with some Polish music on his accordian. After lunch, we visited the Polish Art Center for a talk on amber jewelry, shopka (paper creches) and Polish pottery. Many in the group checked out the Pope John Paul Park and Srodek’s grocery store. Thanks to all who joined PACT on this bus adventure.
Polish Art Center window.
Jan Konoff and Lynn Konoff in front of Srodek’s market.
We found the kiszka. It’s at Srodek’s.
Joan Bittner explaining different types of Polish Pottery.
Part of mural at the Pope John Paul park.
Eddie Paz playing his accordion at the Polonia restaurant.
Ceiling of St. Florian church.
The church of Our Lady of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa.
Altar of St. Florian church made in Italy.
Greg Kawalski giving tour of St. Florian.
Interior of St. Florian.
Statue of Pope John Paul.
Pope John Paul park in Hamtramck.
Tim and Carole Paluszak admiring the choices at New Palace bakery.