Nativity plays are crèches set up and presented in public and are called, depending on the kind, the period or the region: public, talking, pastoral or Besançon crèches.

There is no direct link between the liturgical dramas and the popular theatre of the crèche, whose earliest appearance dates back to the end of the XVIIIth century.

Their beginning is rather to be found in the Christmas books that proliferated from the XVIth century in which some songs consist of dialogue between two or more partners. These books contain all the elements necessary for playlets in which shepherds played important roles and from which pastoral crèches were derived.

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