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Looking for a Christmas Story about Animals Speaking (from Duncan Williamson?)

I'm looking for a story about Christmas Eve.
There's a folk tradition that the animals can speak at midnight on Christmas Eve. The legend appears in many European countries, but in all the references I've found... there's no story. Or the story is: "My grandmother told me that on Christmas Eve the animals can speak. So I tried to stay up late, but I fell asleep. The end." That's not what I need.

I've found a poem and several children's books which state that the animals can speak because the night Christ was born, they were there at the stable to adore him. But there's no story.

Does anyone know any stories along these lines with an actual plot to them? I seem to recall hearing a version where either a farmhand or someone traveling on the road that night overhead the animals, and uses that information to change his fortune... but I can't find it. If anyone can help me out, I'd be most grateful!

I know there's a Scottish version of the Night the Animals Talked in "Tell Me a Story for Christmas: Traveller Tales," but that's one of the few Duncan Williamson books I can't get access to. Does anyone have that book who might be willing to pass along the bones of the story?

Many thanks,
Berkeley, California

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Hi Tim,
I don't have that book unfortunately. I agree with you on the value of Duncan Williamson's works & have started buying them whenever I can. If you have the Time-Life Enchanted World series, the Book of Christmas on page 86 has "Animals speak at Christmas." Perhaps that will come close enough. If not, I hope somebody responds to your request.
Here is the only link I know.
Not much but it might be a start.
Good telling
Daniel Bishop, the Storyteller
If you can't find the book, look for the video!!ORDERID!&gclid=CMeDueqQ0KUCFYLd4AodSxIUlg

If you scroll down on this site you'll find the video for the 1970 animated version. You might be able to find it for free from the ABC film archives or if you're near a museum of broadcasting, maybe. Hope that helps. Happy Chanukah

Hi Tim,

there once (around here in South of Bavaria) was a farmer who didn't believe that the animals speak in the New-Years-Night. So at the very end of the year he crept into the stables and listened to the oxes he had there. It was about midnight, and he thought that it was all superstition when suddenly one of his oxes said to the other one:

"Du Hoarn, was dua mer moarn?"

And the other one answered:

"Den Bauern aufn Kirchhof foahrn."

(That is Bavarian, it sounds quite ox-ish, and it means: "You, horn, what will we do tomorrow?"

""Bring the farmer to the church-yard.")

The farmer hearing this started shivering, went to bed right away, and next morning they found him dead.

That might not be exactly what you were looking for, but it is a story.


Greetings to Berkeley, and a better beginning for 2011!










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