Wednesday, December 23, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 2 ...

     In our next to last entry for the year, I thought we'd explore one of the more interesting superstitions of the season that I remember growing up with as a child. 

     Have you ever heard of the Legend of the Talking Animals? There are a number of variations of the story, but the bare bones of it is that as part of the magic of Christmas, if you stayed up until midnight on Christmas Eve and were very quiet, you could hear the animals talk in human speech. The origin of this story is hard to track down - most people say this practice originated from the British Isles, at the more isolated farms, but I've also heard the legend being attributed to Polish origin.

     According to Dr. Karl Shuker (at his ShukerNature website):

      "In many lands, there is an age-old folk belief that from midnight on Christmas Eve until dawn breaks on Christmas Day morning, animals are blessed with the gift of human speech, in memory of the lowly stable creatures that surrounded the Holy Family in the manger. During that magical period, they are able to converse with one another, enabling them to voice their adoration of the newborn Jesus, and also to discuss how well (or otherwise) they are cared for by their human masters."

     In addition to the regular talking animals, there is also the belief that if you keep bees and go out to their hive at midnight on Christmas Eve, you will hear them humming a hymn in honor of Christ's birth. Another version of the tale says the animals are only able to speak for a few minutes after midnight on Christmas Eve (making it that much harder to catch them), in remembrance of the animals in the manger. They have the gift of human speech for a limited time to commemorate the short time they had before the shepherds arrived from the fields, when the only people who heard them speak were Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.

     This is one of the earliest stories I remember as a kid, and for some reason, it creeped me out! :) So of course, year after year, I would make it a point to stay up until midnight to try and catch my Mom's poodle talking (if he said anything, it would have probably been something along the lines of, "Hey, kid, stop blaming me for all the stuff YOU break around the house!", instead of any real profundity). Sadly, he never spoke. Of course, if it was a cat, they would probably have a whole LIST of things they'd like to bring up with you, so maybe it's for the best that it's only for a few minutes. 

     The story was made into an animated Christmas cartoon in 1970 by Gamma Films and used to be shown regularly on TV. It's called 'The Night The Animals Talked' - you can see it (in six parts) via this YouTube link:

     The other variation of this that I've heard is that if you go out to an isolated area away from the city and other people (some quiet, rural area in the country is best) at exactly midnight on Christmas Eve and stand still and silent outside, you can hear the angels singing in celebration. I tried this one a few times as a kid and actually DID hear faint singing one time! 

     So if you're a pet owner, stay up 'till midnight on Christmas Eve and try this out - let us know if you hear anything (well, anything more than, "More cheese, please!")


     Coming Tomorrow: Our final entry for the year, with our Annual Christmas Ghost Story - actually, TWO! Join us as we wrap up the K.A.C. in style!

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