As a kid, one of the things I tremendously enjoy was setting up the family belen, the scene that depicts the birth of Jesus. It has an all-star cast: the Holy Family, the Three Kings, the shepherds with their sheep, the ox, the mule and the angel.
So imagine my surprise when, as a student in Europe, I saw that many people love their creche and that they have bigger sets, including anachronic figures such as Renaissance farmers, chandlers and butchers. Here are two of the most memorable I've seen:
Rome, Italy. I forgot the name of the church dedicated to the Virgin but my friend always frequents this place to drink the healing water that wells from beneath the place. Its presepe, for me, was the best feature of the church. It's displayed during the entire year in a room at the left-hand side of the altar under the soft and romantic shimmer of blue lights.
Barcelona, Spain. This guilded belen was located outside the Generalitat of Catalunya. It's a simple set with the Holy Family and the ox and mule, but its glimmer beneath the winter sun was simply divine. It's encased in a glass box which in turn is covered with tall reeds and bamboo-like plants.