Gliwice residents can catch some of the real Christmas spirit by helping to build a manger scene on the main market square.
The community effort, which starts tomorrow, makes it “something special,” said Dariusz Jezierski, who came up with the idea. He is director of Gliwice’s National Theater.
A collective effort to create the manger scene “will emphasize the community character of Christmas,” Jezierski said.
A manger, or animal feeding trough, was where the Bible says Mary placed the baby Jesus after his birth. It has become a symbol of Christmas worldwide.
“Right now the best-known manger scene is in Krakow,” Jezierski said. “Maybe that will change.”
Many residents have expressed interest in helping to build the Nativity scene, including students from the Silesian Polytechnic Institute in Gliwice. There is still a need for carpenters and bricklayers, however.
Each volunteer can propose ideas about the interior of the scene, gifts for the baby Jesus and the clothes of the main characters, including Mary and Joseph, shepherds and the three Wise Men.
During the nine-day construction period, which will end Dec. 23, the main market square will be alive with the sights, sounds and feel of Christmas. Each day, for example, youth choirs will give Christmas concerts.
Soloists and theater groups will also perform, Jezierski said.
A culmination of the festivities will be Bishop Jan Wieczorek performing a Christmas Mass at the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral on Sunday Dec. 23.
Saint Francis of Assisi came up with the idea of building the first Nativity scene in the Italian city of Greccio in 1223. The custom that he started spread throughout the world.
The Roman Catholic Church’s Franciscans, an order of monks named for the saint, were a catalyst in spreading the manger-scene tradition. They built scenes wherever they established monasteries.
The Nativity scene is a deep-rooted tradition in Poland because Franciscans built their first monasteries here in the 13th Century.
Today, every Roman Catholic church has a manger scene with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.