Having put aside every aspect of refined art, the Presepio took on decidedly folkloristic art which emphasized blue skies and shining sun, since in these countries Christmas falls in mid Summer and Presepio are often built in the open, in gardens or patios and are decorated with all sorts of cacti.
In Mexico the Presepio is one of the most authentic expressions of typical Indian craft-work sold at every village market and which, from 1500 onwards, was enriched by the influence of European and Asian settlers. Spanish rule brings with it Iberian art which overshadows that of the Maya and Aztec peoples as we see in statues still extant in the Presepio of San Miguel di Allende and wax Presepio figures belonging to old noble families of Spanish descent.
The Presepio was diffused between 1600 and 1700, by the Jesuits and by missionary priests from Portugal, Spain and France, who came to evangelize the native Indians. Although it is said that a century earlier Jose de Anquieta helped the Indians to make a Nativity Scene with figures modelled in clay. While in Europe the art of the Presepio had reached its highest forms of expression, in Brazil it was introduced and began to spread first modelled on Spanish and Portuguese Nativity Scenes and later with its own characteristics and the introduction of Indian mythological figures. In north-eastern Brazil we find the Lapinhas symbolic constructions in which Baby Jesus is dressed in cloth of gold and precious gems, set on the hill top and surrounded by flowers, plants, birds and animals of all species. Typical also the two floor Presepio with the Nativity below and above the Crucifixion scene surrounded by the favorite saints of the artist or commissioner.
In Paraguay the Presepio is set up in almost every home because there is a tradition that it protects the family from harm. A few days before Christmas the people take a wooden board on which they put a mound of humid earth where rice grains are sown which soon sprout tender green leaves. On this mount they build the scene with figures and little animals made of cotton wool and pieces of colored glass to look like rocks and stones. Then the entire Presepio is enclosed with a circle of melons, pineapples and coconut flowers. Baby Jesus is placed in the cradle but in the week of the new year, the little babe is replaced with a bigger child holding in one hand a small globe of the world and in the other a cross.