Animals Talk On Christmas Eve

Growing up, I had a city grandmother and a country grandmother.  I loved them both dearly and I learned vastly different things from them, as you might imagine.  My farm grandmother’s name was Pearl.  She was my mother’s mother and it was her farm that I loved visiting when I was a girl.  Coincidentally, my husband’s maternal grandmother was also named “Pearl.”

One December a couple of weeks before Christmas when I was around 12 years old, my grandmother told me she had always heard that the animals talked at midnight on Christmas Eve to proclaim the birth of Jesus.  I asked her if she planned to go out to the barn that night to see if any of the animals would talk.   She told me she thought she might.

The story circulated throughout the family and everyone chuckled about the idea of grandma going out to the cold barn at midnight on Christmas Eve to see if the animals would talk.  The children in my family were very excited about this and we all wanted to know if it was true.

A couple of weeks later, my grandmother made her way through the light snow to the barn a few minutes before midnight on Christmas Eve.  She pulled open the large, red door and then closed it securely behind her. All the animals were in their pens and stalls and the barn was warm and protected from the cold, winter night.

She noticed that the animals seemed a little anxious and unsettled as she sat down on a bale of hay to wait for the midnight hour.  She was seated next to the goat’s pen and right about midnight they began to move around.  My grandmother held her breath and then she heard it…a low voice from right behind her said, “Pearrrllll.”  Then she heard it a second time, “Pearrrllll.”

And that was the point where my Uncle Ken (my mom’s younger brother) couldn’t contain his laughter any longer.  He stood up laughing and looked into the shocked face of his mother, my grandmother.

I don’t know what she said to him that Christmas Eve night…I probably don’t want to know…but the story and the epic prank became a part of our family’s folklore collection and here I am telling you about it some 40 years later.

Do the animals actually talk at midnight on Christmas Eve?  I don’t know the answer but apparently they did that night!  I do know that a lot has been written about the possibility of it.  Why wouldn’t it be true?  Since Jesus was born in a manger with animals all around, why wouldn’t they too want to proclaim the birth of the King?

There’s yet another legend that says the farm animals kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve in honor of the birth of Jesus.  British novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, wrote a poem in 1915 about the animals kneeling called, “The Oxen.”

Image result for Thomas Hardy poem about animals kneeling christmas eve

If you search Amazon, you will find several books written on the subject of the animals on Christmas Eve.  My favorite, and one I hope to read to my grandson, Graham, when he is older is called, “The Animals’ Christmas Eve” a Little Golden Book, by Gale Wiersum and illustrated by Jim Robison.

It begins like this:

“In the barn on Christmas Eve, after all the people leave,

The animals in voices low, remember Christmas long ago.

One small hen, upon her nest, softly clucks to all the rest:

‘Little chicks, come gather near.  A wondrous story you will hear.’

Two white doves, on rafters high, coo a quiet lullaby:

‘Long ago in manger hay, the little baby Jesus lay…'”

Wishing you all a blessed and Merry Christmas…and please, let me know if you hear the animals talk on Christmas Eve!

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