Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 01 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Alphonsus Liguori
home iconTravel
line break icon

These living Nativity scenes will make you feel like you were at the first Christmas


DARRAY | Shutterstock

V. M. Traverso - published on 12/20/18

Real people and real animals make these creches come alive.

The act of recreating the Nativity scene is one of the most beloved Christmas traditions around the world. But some communities take this a step further. From Poland to Italy and Spain, Catholic towns around the world spend months to prepare enchanting live Nativity scenes featuring real people and often real animals, too.

The first “live” Nativity scene is believed to have been created in 1233 by St. Francis of Assisi after returning from a trip to the Holy Land where he witnessed the real birthplace of Jesus. Francis realized that believers could better connect with the celebration of Christmas if exposed to the very setting where the joyful event occurred.

And indeed that same reason is what motivates communities the world over to engage with the practice some two thousand years later. As explained byMichelle Miller-Vandevort, a coordinator of the live Nativity at Wyatt Park Christian Church, Missouri, the process of recreating the moment when Jesus was born is an important source of social connection for people who may not otherwise spent time together outside rituals and church services.

Here is a gallery of some of the most striking live Nativity scenes from around the world.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Lauren Daigle
J-P Mauro
After 3 years Lauren Daigle ousts herself from #1 Billboard spot
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.