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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. When looking at Christmas pictures or when reading Christmas stories, there are always indications of animals in the Christmas manger. What is the origin of these animals. Was there really animals in the manger?

A. 1. In the New Testament Gospels, we find no reference to animals at the nativity scene. As far as we know, there never was a donkey, ox, or sheep, and no camels that belonged to the Magi. The origin of the ox and the ass is found in an Old Testament passage where it states: "The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.” [Is. 1:3]

The origin of animals in the nativity scene can be traced to 1415. At the Corpus Christi celebration, the Ordo paginarum notes that Jesus was lying between an ox and an ass. By the 1970's, it was noticed that churches and community organizations started to include animals in nativity pageants.

So that explains why you see animals in the nativity scene.

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