Awesome Advent Day 17: Daft Donkeys
The Bible says a donkey carried Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The Donkey was there on the first night of Christmas night, so we now associate the animal with Christmas.
People through the ages have had some daft ideas about donkeys.
Top 10 donkey beleifs:
- Donkeys have a cross of dark hair on their backs, on the spot where Mary sat and she was carried to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus. People believe this cross is the mark of God.
- People also believe that the donkey cross has the magical power to cure all sort of problems, including toothache and fits.
- Passing a child three times under and over a donkey was believed to cure a whopping cough.
- Sometimes donkey hairs were mixed with bread and eaten for luck.
- Sometimes people would have to put a sick person’s hair in the donkey’s food for it to eat to cure the person’s illness.
- In the fifth century poet Aurelius Clemens said that donkeys and other animals in the stable where Jesus was born could speak. He said it was so they could join the angels in praising Jesus.
- In 1223, the Pope allowed St. Francis of Assisi to use live animals, including a donkey, on stage to tell the Christmas story in a play. These ‘Nativity’ plays became popular all around the world.
- The nativity stories added the tale of Aurelius Clemens and the talking animals. The plays showed that God had given the animals in the stable the power to speak for an hour at midnight on Christmas Eve.
- People also believed it was very bad luck to catch the animals chatting. One thing you may hear is the donkeys debating whether their master will die before next Christmas.
- In Britain the story has changed- the animals in British legends never do their Christmas chatting when there is a human a round to hear.
Want more Horrible Christmas? Check out the book, Horrible Histories: Horrible Christmas.