We all are aware of the iconic image of Santa’s sleigh gliding through the sky by Rudolph and his fellow reindeers as they magically drag the big-bellied man with plenty of Christmas presents.
However, reindeers aren’t the only animal connected to this holiday. From kangaroos to turtle doves and roosters, we’ve compiled a list of Christmas animals from all over the world.
These popular Christmas icons have been developed over time, collecting myths and folklores from numerous cultures such as Saint Nicolas, Father Christmas, and Sinterklaas.
It may come as a surprise to know that older legends of “Santa Clause” didn’t have reindeers. In fact, this aspect of the story wasn’t introduced until the 19th century through the poem “Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.
The character of Rudolph – being the most famous reindeer- didn’t come until 1939 when an employee at a department store known as Robert L. May was told to provide a story to improve marketing.
In countries like Sweden and other Scandinavian regions, a prevalent Christmas practice is the decoration of a straw goat, which is referred to as the Yule Goat.
The straws are gotten from the last harvest. The townspeople believe the last sheath of grain collected from the harvest is filled with magical properties.
Legend also has it that Thor rose the skies with magical flying goats. The Yule goat has also been considered as a spirit that visits households to ensure that preparation for yule is underway.
Many Christians can relate to donkeys with the birth of Christ. Donkeys are mostly seen as sacred as they are said to have transported Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem when she was still pregnant with Jesus.
They are commonly depicted in the early life of Jesus Christ. It is also believed that donkeys bear a cross on their back as Jesus was carried to Bethlehem on them.
There is even a Christmas song called “Little Donkey” about the donkey that carries the mother of Jesus.
Robins are often affiliated with Christmas and are often depicted in snowy scenes on the front of Christmas cards.
Postmen would usually wear bright red coats during the Victorian times, and were commonly nicknamed robins.
Christmas cards would then have pictures of robins on them, where the robins would have cards or gifts in their beaks to represent the postmen or sometimes “robin” as they were generally nicknamed.
In some cultures, common among Latinos, Christmas Eve is celebrated more than Christmas Day. They would usually attend an early morning mass right on the morning of Christmas Eve, and it is referred to as Misa de Gallo, meaning Roosters Mass.
It is termed after the rooster as the colorful bird was first to proclaim the birth of Christ by crowing at midnight. It is believed that this is the only time a rooster would crow that early. Cock-a-doodle-doo!
I’m sure the song “12 Days of Christmas” would have you thinking about the partridge where the first gift on the list was a partridge in a pear tree.
The song is generally believed to be presents given by true love. Nonetheless, the ‘true love’ mentioned in the song translates to god while the partridge in the pear tree portrays Jesus Christ. All the presents mentioned in this Christmas song do in fact, have a religious connotation.
Australia’s very own boxers. In Australia, a general Christmas song known as “Six White Boomers” depicts Santa letting his reindeers to rest when he gets to Australia. Santa Claus later went ahead to use six white kangaroos to complete his mission.
In the song, Santa went on to change into some more relaxed clothes to cope with the warmer climate down under.
Turtle doves have also been linked with Christmas, just like the partridge, because of the “12 Days of Christmas” song. Doves, as depicted in the Bible, are loyal, loving, and are a symbol of peace.
In the popular Christmas song, the pair of turtle doves represent both the Old and the New Testament.
In some parts of the world, such as Ireland, December 26th, “Boxing Day” is referred to as St Stephens Day.
On days like this, an ancient tradition that’s almost died out, form a procession, and hold an extended pole with a wren right inside a holly bush while a song is sung about the bird. They were generally known as “The Wren Boys Procession.” Fortunately, wrens aren’t used in processions anymore.
In countries like Finland, Poland, and even Denmark, it is very healthy to have animals involved in Christmas. However, it is only by getting them involved in the gift sharing process.
When it is time to share Christmas biscuits in Poland, the animals get a fair share as it is believed to enable them to speak the human language at midnight. Many other countries have traditions that involve feeding animals for good luck during the holidays.
Are there other Christmas animals you know that you’d like to share? What are the weirdest Christmas animals you’ve come across? Kindly share with us in the comments below.