Unfortunately we are going to miss the presépios this year as we are in England for Christmas, and return to Portugal a few days after twelfth night. So if you are there this Christmas please take a few extra photographs for me!
The very first crib is believed to have been created in Italy in the mid 13th century , and over the following centuries the concept spread across Europe. In England they seem to be limited to churches these days, but in Portugal you will find many of them in the fire stations such as this one in Faro as well as libraries and halls. Most families will also have a small one in their homes.
What I love about them is that as well as the Nativity they depict scenes from every day life. A life that would have been typical of many countries 2000 years ago, but disappeared in England in the last century. You will still though find people living this simpler and more sustainable life in parts of the Algarve and Alentejo.
My favourite presépio is the extraordinary Presépio Gigante in Vila Real de Santo António, but they are all very special so if you see a sign for presépio follow it!