The Chapel (Kapela) – an old, shepherd’s pastime, now good fun for everyone

gry tradycyjne to wspaniała rozrywka rodzinna

Another, Polish, traditional game

After describing first, Polish, traditional game – Pierścieniówka (the Ringnetball), about which you can read HERE, it is time for another, traditional game from Poland – Kapela or in English: the Chapel.

What is the Chapel?

The name of this game comes from an Italian word capella.

In the past, shepherds used to play it at Kociewie (Pomerania region at the seaside in northern Poland). They had many field stones in this area, which they were using to play.

Over time, this game was forgotten but in the recent decades it has been reactivated in some villages of Kociewie region by local authorities. Then, it was spread, among others, to Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) voivodeship where it was further popularized.

How to play the Chapel?

Kapela consists in playing a kind of a duel between two players. One person, acting as a so-called Kapelamaster, stands in the middle of the field with a hat / a cup on his/her head (you can use also e.g. bean bags instead of hats) and puts a small construction of stones (one on another) next to him or her. It resembles a chapel – hence the name of the game.

Around the Kapelamaster, there are usually up to 8 players (their number can of course be changed) who form a circle. Each of them has a wooden ball in his hand (it was a stone in the past).

One of these players starts the game, by throwing or rolling the ball towards the stone chapel so that it falls over. If he or she succeeds, he/she runs for the ball and returns with it (the same path) to his/her place.

At the same time, the task of Kapelamaster is to rebuild the chapel and then to throw a cap / a hat (from his/her head) at the player running after the ball. If he hits him/her, before he/she returns with the ball to his/her place, the hit person becomes the new Kapelamaster.

If Kapelamaster misses or fails to rebuild the chapel (or the stones fall during the game), he or she remains in his/her place and another player from the circle tries to knock down the stone chapel, by throwing or rolling his/her ball.

There are basically no winners or losers in this game. After each turn, the Kapelamaster either changes and becomes one of the players from the circle or not and he or she continues to play his/her role until he/she successfully rebuilds the chapel and hits someone with a hat.

You can play until the game gets bored or spontaneously come up with another way to end it.

kapela - polska gra tradycyjna
the Chapel – a “duel” between a Kapelamaster (right) and a player with a ball

The Chapel in Poland and abroad – for children, families and everyone interested

Kapela (the Chapel) is still vivid. However, it is played only occasionally in some villages, communes or towns. In Osieczna commune (Kociewie region, Pomerania)  there is an event called World Championships in Kapela (here a plural form of “Kapele” is used), played every year since 2000.

In Greater Poland region Kapela is presented and played also only occasionally, for instance during practical classes for children and adults (organized, among others, by me).

This sport has also been shown in many places in Poland and abroad, among others:

  • at the World Sport for All Games in Lithuania (2012),
  • at the I European Week of Sport in Belgium (2015),
  • at the I European Sport for All Games in the Netherlands (2018).
kapela - polska gra tradycyjna
the Chapel – World Sport for All Games, Lithuania

What is more, the Chapel has even reached China where it was introduced to the activities of small children by Zhu Qian, after he had received information about this game from me.

I will write more about it in a separated post later.

the Chapel - Polish, traditional game in China
the Chapel – Polish, traditional game in China
the Chapel - Polish, traditional game in China2

We have also shown the Chapel many times in Poland, among others in Poznań during the Children’s Day, as well as at a sports event in Warsaw.

Children had a great time then, because for them it was a good opportunity to try something new and, at the same time, spend their time actively and cheerfully.

polska gra tradycyjna kapela

the Chapel is a good fun for everyone

Kapela (the Chapel) is a Polish, cheerful, traditional game, very good for the whole families. It gives a lot of joy from the duel – a running competition between the Kapelamaster and the consecutive players from the circle.

It is a simple, joyful, running game, derived from Polish pastoral traditions and now returning as an attractive physical activity for children, adults, whole families, the elderly and everyone interested.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.