Fascinating street photos from 1930s show pre-Christmas preparations in Kraków

A boy and girl smiling with delight as they bend down to take a closer look at a large nativity crib on display by a street seller as a crowd admire the array of cribs from behind them. Decorative nativity cribs are a Christmas tradition originating from Kraków and first started in the 19th century. A unique feature is to use historic Kraków buildings as the backdrop for the nativity of Jesus. An annual competition for the best nativity crib or ‘szopka’ has been. Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

From deliberations over the perfect Christmas tree to the best baubles and fattest carp for Christmas Eve dinner, see what pre-Christmas shopping looked like in Poland 90 years ago.

A woman adds a batch of shining baubles to wooden crates ready for customers seeking to decorate their Christmas trees.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A nun holds up a small Christmas tree or perhaps a bouquet of fir branches she has selected, as two women and a child look on.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A fashionably dressed woman in a belted coat, white gloves, beret and clutch bag reaches out to take a closer look at enticingly wrapped boxes of gifts or confectionary on display at an outdoor stall at the Christmas market in front of Kraków’s Cloth Hall.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A family with an impressive baby’s perambulator stop to buy trinkets at a traditional stall outside Kraków’s Cloth Hall, Main Market Square.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A man holds up two Christmas tree decorations, one adorned with a stork, the other with a peacock, whilst an image of the Polish eagle, (Poland’s coat of arms) is visible on display on the wall behind him, alongside images of what look like two Polish political leaders and a Polish map.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A group of boys enjoy choose a live carp from a huge water-filled barrel with one holding his flailing fish proudly in the air for the street seller.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A crowds gather around a distinguished looking man with a cane who seems to be entertaining a child with something inside a weaved basket.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

Decision made! Two men, one holding a small axe, handle a Christmas tree which seems to have been selected by a customer, as a man looks on and a queue gathers behind.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A man picks out and considers a long candle snuffer cane from a young street seller offering them in front of Kraków’s Cloth Hall, with crowds visible all around the market behind them.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A smiling street seller dressed in a sheepskin and elegant men’s hat entices customers by proudly displaying his long ropes of dried mushrooms on his left arm.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A woman stops to admire and deliberate over a pair of intricate Christmas tree decorations while a seller displays his impressive array of exclusive baubles from an open valise.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

Fruit and vegetable sellers wrap up against the cold as they wait for customers with their weaved baskets of fresh wares in front of a wall of cut Christmas trees and the recognisable turrets of Kraków’s Cloth Hall visible above them.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

A crowd of boys look excitedly towards the camera as they celebrate the traditional purchase of the Christmas Eve dinner fish around a man who is placing a large karp on a weighing scale.Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe 
This article was first published in December 2021.