Szopka, Paczki, and more *
© Becky Linhardt 2011
“December is always an active month for the Polish community in the Detroit area,” said Joan Bittner of the Polish Art Center. “The Szopka exhibition here; Midnight Mass in Polish at St. Florian; shopping at the bakeries and markets in Hamtramck – it will be a very lively time.” The annual Szopka, or crèche competition highlights a folk art tradition of painting a manger scene on the reverse side of glass but has evolved into 3 dimensions – and lots of glitter.
As Lent nears, the last days of Karnaval time are celebrated. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is usually celebrated with paczki, a pastry that is something like a jelly donut with a very ooey, gooey fruit flavor filling. The bakeries along Joseph Campau Street sell out of the sweet treats quickly.
Easter is also a special Holyday/Holiday. The focus is food, lots of food, to enjoy after the Lenten fasts. Easter eggs are an art form, actually several art forms. Pisanki are dyed using a batik process; Malowanki are hand-painted; Drapanki have a design scratched into the surface of a solid color egg; and there are even more styles. The Polish Art Center offers traditionally designed eggs for sale and organizes classes in several of the traditional methods of decoration.
Acting as a focal point for the Polish community, the Polish Art Center’s web site has a Contact Us feature on their web site with links to Polish restaurants, markets, and bakeries, local churches, community action groups, – everything to immerse yourself in the Polish culture still active in Hamtramck.
Polish Art Center – Retail shop is open daily year round. No admission
www.polartcenter.com or 888-619-9771
www.visitdetroit.com or 800-338-7648
This link will quickly take you to the section of the Polish Art Center web site that has links to organizations in the Detroit area, the USA, and Poland.
* DESIGN INSPIRATION
The visual impact of the Polish Art Center can be almost overwhelming but there are decorative treasures to be found. Christmas and Easter – especially the traditional decorated eggs but there is much more that has been imported and unique – always colorful! Accent items for the home will definitely spark a conversation so ask the shopkeepers lots of questions about the origins and the techniques so that you are ready for questions from visitors to your home.