Following a beautiful and firmly-rooted tradition, many families set up their crib immediately after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, as if to relive with Mary those days full of trepidation that preceded the Birth of Jesus. Putting up the crib at home can be a simple but effective way of present in faith, to pass it on to one's children. The crib helps us contemplate the mystery of God's love that was revealed in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem Grotto. Saint Francis of Assisi was so taken by the mystery of the Incarnation that he wanted to present it anew at Greccio in the living nativity scene, thus beginning an old, popular tradition that still retains its value for evangelization today. Indeed, the crib can help us understand the secret of the true Christmas because it speaks of the humility and merciful goodness of Christ, who though he was rich he made himself poor for us (2 Cor 8:9). His poverty enriches those who embrace it, and Christmas brings joy and peace to those who, like the shepherds in Bethlehem, accept the angel's words: Let this be a sign to you: in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes (Lk 2:12). This is still the sign for us too, men and women of the third millennium. There in no other Christmas.
Pope Benedict XVI