Enjoy this Christmas tune, The Friendly Beasts, sung by Evan Wickham!
Our African Grey parrot will celebrate twenty-seven Christmases with us this year; our Cockatoo, seven years. With a lifespan of 60-75 years, we have many more holidays to sing Christmas songs together. But I’m sure this exotic species did not exist in biblical days, especially at the manger of Jesus. In today’s Everything Christmas Blog, let’s learn some interesting facts about the nativity animals. Though these animals existed when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, scriptures do not support placing them at this holy site.
An animal portrayed at the nativity is the donkey, named then a Jack Donkey. However, it is doubtful Mary rode 80 miles into Bethlehem on one, being nine months pregnant. Her safety was better in a caravan. But, it carried Jesus through the streets to the hill of Calvary which ultimately led to its shroud of mystery. It is spoken when Jesus sat on his back, a cross appeared in the hairs of this sacred animal. Did you know these cross markings, after 2,000 years, still remain on its back? This is a true, forever sign, that God’s love carries a reward for everything we see – the Messiah.
Today’s manger scene also highlights camels arriving with the Three Wise Men to adore the Christ Child. However, after close evaluation of Bible verses, this, too, is incorrect. The magi traveled to Nazareth where Joseph and Mary then lived in a house. The Three Kings’ arrival time is unclear, but it was before Jesus’s second birthday and after Christ’s presentation in the Temple:
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
Shepherds raised Fat-tailed sheep, used as sacrificial animals in Bethlehem, in the days of Jesus’s natal. This special species was the first to learn of Jesus’s coming, but were they actually at the stable? It is improbable. When the angels appeared before the shepherds to announce a birth, they were scared and shocked, but instinctively, they knew to find the holy site. Surely, they did not travel with their flocks of sheep to view a baby, especially when they did not know exactly where they were headed. Winter is the breeding season for sheep, and it was vital they remained in the fields. Shepherds sold them to the people of Bethlehem for money in the spring. However, if Mary gave birth in a stable (which is not clarified in the Bible either), there is a likelihood sheep could have been living in part of the stall.
Animals, though not found in the scripture’s documentation of the birth site, still seem to play a prominent role in our Christmas traditions today. I surmise we will never know the truth of their presence at the nativity until we meet Jesus face-to-face. But until then, let’s fast-forward time to celebrate our own precious animals this Christmas! Feed them special foods, give them hugs, and buy them a gift to make them feel part of your family. After all, they too, are a gift from God!
Be sure to join us on Thursday for the next, Everything Christmas Blog!