When St Francis of
made the first Christmas Nativity Scene in Greccio, a small village in Assisi , in 1223, crowds came to see it. He made a manger by a rocky cave in the woods and real people acted the parts of Mary and Joseph. A wax doll represented Jesus. He also included animals like an ox and a donkey. Then he delivered Mass. Italy
Everybody loved it. The service was so moving that people almost believed they were actually in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. Next year the same scene was repeated in other churches and Christmas cribs have become popular ever since. As time went by statues replaced people and also the Three Wise Men, shepherds and angels were added.
In the XVII century this custom was introduced in churches and in the homes of Christian families.
Nowadays you can find Christmas cribs made of many different materials and styles.