Representing the birth of Jesus goes back a long way. There is a relief on a fourth-century Roman sarcophagus showing some shepherds adoring the Messiah, which is the oldest representation of the Mystery of Christ.
In Catalonia we have evidence of a nativity scene, a pessebre, in 1300, most likely due to Franciscan influence. We know that by the end of the 16th century there were family nativity scenes and we suppose the tradition of making them spread rapidly. So much so that, by 1786, Barcelona had the Fira de Santa Llúcia, a Christmas market where it was possible to buy everything required to do that.
The enthusiasm for pessebres was very noticeable and the first Associació de Pessebristes was set up in Barcelona in 1863. The association made a great contribution to the technique of making them in 1912 by incorporating plaster. This and other innovations made Catalan nativity art, pessebrisme, known in Europe, where it still enjoys a very good reputation.
Today there are many local associations that organise courses, annual exhibitions and other related activities.
And in Barcelona there are two that belong to the Federació Catalana de Pessebristes.