Talking to the Animals on Christmas Eve

When you were young, did anyone ever tell you that animals can talk at midnight on Christmas? I don’t remember who told me, but I do remember looking expectantly at the family Dachshund for several years. For the record he never said anything, at least not in a human language.

A quick internet search didn’t find much about the origins of this legend. A little surprising and frustrating in this day of easy on-line research. But that does give us the space to speculate and theologize a bit.

There is a longing in children to talk with animals. What else explains the Doctor Dolittle stories? What else explains the long one sided talks with a patient dog or cat. ( Or horse or hamster)

I wonder if that longing isn’t the remnants of the memory of the way things were supposed to be. Somehow as children we know that our relationship with animals is not what is should be. A child should be able to put her hand near the asp. We should not flee from a bear or run from a lion. As children we long for the harmony that we know is missing from the world.

The missing harmony begins to be set right at Christmas. Long before we have the theological language to describe it we know that when Jesus is born, God come among us, the healing has begun. The Good News is here. At the birth of Jesus, the incarnation, heaven and earth are joined. Angels and shepherd sing. And legend suggests that the animals joined in praise. The world set right for a moment. 

The underlying assumption of the legend is that the animals know God and are in relationship with God. Until we get talked out of it, many of us start with the very Biblical assumption that all of creation, everything and everyone, can praise God.   Animals in their animal way praise God and on Christmas we humans may be given a glimpse of the reality of animals.

I’m a grown person now, well past the age of childhood dreams. But yet, I catch myself each Christmas looking at my cats and hoping this is the Christmas they speak. Hoping that this is the Christmas that the world is set right.   May it be so…

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21 Responses to “Talking to the Animals on Christmas Eve”

  1. Latest Pets Animals Auctions | Pet Animals Says:

    [...] Talking to the Animals on Christmas Eve « Conversation in Faith Weblog [...]

  2. Solveig Says:

    I’ve never heard the legend, but I love it. Perhaps we hear them in our heart?

  3. Group works to help animals | Pet Animals Says:

    [...] Talking to the Animals on Christmas Eve « Conversation in Faith Weblog [...]

  4. What farm animals make good pets, and why? | Pet Animals Says:

    [...] Talking to the Animals on Christmas Eve « Conversation in Faith Weblog [...]

  5. Frank Says:

    Thanks for the research on this question. I haven’t heard of the legend, but it’s worth a try.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for your gifts of these posts.

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  9. Stormy Says:

    My mother told me that animals talk to each other on New Years eve and if we kids stayed up until midnight, we would hear them talk just like us and we would be able to communicate with them. We never managed to stay up until midnight, no matter how hard we tried. I guess mother knew that getting up before dawn to do farm chores would keep us too tired to ever stay up to hear them talk.

  10. Gabriello Pitman Says:

    I thought my girlfriend was crazy when she told me that animals talked on Christmas. Now I understand. Thanks for the blog post!

  11. Milton Helms Says:

    People of different languages speak to each other every day. Not thru translators, but signs and jestures. Why should animals be any different?

    My chair sits beside a window. On the other side, is a flat board on which I put seeds for the birds and squirrels. They are only inches away from me, but somehow they know the window separates us from each other. Just as the glass cage protects me from being bitten by the snake, so the window protects the birds and squirrels from being eaten by me.

    But I am not concerned about our differences. I take comfort in knowing we share the most imortant miricle of all. We give birth, raise and love our children. The lanquage of love is universal. Isn’t that what humans and animals are really talking about?

  12. Night Audit Says:

    I first heard about this christmas story in the Christmas movie ..The Homecoming – the pilot for the Waltons TV series. John Boy took his siblings in the barn and told them this story.

  13. The Dog-Friendly Christmas Makeover | Something Wagging This Way Comes Says:

    […] I don’t go to midnight Mass in Ithaca, I can stay home to see if Honey speaks at midnight, like they say in the old legends. I guess I’d better take a nap or I’ll miss it once […]

  14. Jeff Says:

    Going out to the barn to hear the animals talk was to get the kids out of the house so mom could put presents under the tree.Santa came to our house Xmas eve .

  15. Lynn Says:

    It’s a Polish legend (maybe other countries as well) that animals speak on Christmas Eve, but only the pure in spirit can hear them. A couple years ago on Christmas Eve, my two cats were laying down, gazing at the nativity scene under the tree. Not playing with ornaments just staring. I thought to myself, oh my God, they Know!

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