The Besançon crèche is a puppet show about the Nativity that emerged in France towards the end of the Ancien Régime. In Besançon just before the Revolution, a puppeteer put on a popular show by adding characters drawn from local society to the traditional Nativity figures. The satiric character Barbizier personified the resistance of the Francs-Comtois to France’s assimilation policies and the battle against the abuses of power and wealth. He thus became the spokesman for regional cultural identity.

The Besançon crèche was banned during the Revolution and gradually became less of a vehicle for social criticism than a children’s show by the end of the XIXth century. The words, handed down orally, were written down in 1865 by Abbé Bailly. Several years later a show where young people took on the traditional roles of the puppets was staged.

The Besançon crèche continues to be performed today.
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Mission de la recherche et de la technologie, Direction des Musées de France, Musée de la civilisation, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Musée national des arts et traditions populaires, Département de l'organisation des systèmes d'information,

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