Instead, the more common BrE name for such scenes is the Christmas crib, with (BrE) crib referring specifically to a manger, as detailed by the OED:
1. A barred receptacle for fodder used in cowsheds and fold-yards; also in fields, for beasts lying out during the winter; a CRATCH. (In nearly all early quots. applied to the manger in which the infant Christ was laid; cf. CRATCH n.)According to the OED, the extension of crib to nativity scenes was originally from the Roman Catholic church, and it may be the case that such scenes are more common in the UK in Catholic homes. In the US, they're nearly universal elements of Christmas decoration, but I don't recall seeing any in homes in the UK (yet), although there is a piece in Saturday's Guardian about the knit(ted) nativity scene (the author's term--not crib, creche, etc.--so that one seems to be dialect-neutral) that the author bought at Oxfam.
Now, of course, crib in AmE is the usual word for a baby's bed with barred sides, which in BrE would be called a cot, which in AmE means a (BrE) camp bed. But what I find funny about all this are the lyrics to the Christmas carol 'Away in a Manger':
Away in a manger,According to cyberhymnal, the author of the first two verses is unknown, but it was originally published in a Lutheran book in Philadelphia, so we can probably assume American authorship or at least assume that Americans were responsible for the first English translation of the lyrics (if they were originally German, as the Telegraph claims). We probably should assume American authorship, since if you're a BrE speaker, the lyric seems to mean 'Away in a manger, no manger for a bed'. Nevertheless the British site carols.org.uk claims that this is "always the first carol that children are taught." (I'd like to see the research to back that up.) The only reference to 'no cot for a bed' that I've found on the web is a South African on alt.usage.english complaining "It's those damned Americans. They've even hijacked the Christmas carols". I don't see how we could have hijacked something that didn't exist before one of us made it up, but perhaps someone in South Africa should be considered a better authority on hijacking. (Oooh, Lynne's getting catty.)
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head
Carols--particularly the ones one hears in church--vary a lot in the US and UK. The tune for 'Away in a Manger' differs in the two countries. Click here for the American tune, and here for the British one. I went to a local carol concert a couple of years ago, and found that I couldn't sing along to many of the songs, either because I'd never heard them before, or because the tunes were completely different from the ones I knew.
So...Merry (BrE informal) Chrimbo! Don't forget to nominate your favo(u)rite dialect-crossing words for the SbaCL Word of the Year!