If you think about it, the Christmas stories we tell are full of animals. There’s the donkey carrying Mary in the Nativity story (cue “Little Donkey” from everyone who has fond memories of 1980s nativity plays!), sheep (with the shepherds) and cattle (in the stable). If we go further back, animals feature even more prominently – with spiders, cockerels and deer all getting a mention, not counting all the food animals commemorated in The Twelve Days of Christmas (which, some people say, is a musical recipe for a mixed game pie!). Then of course there are St Nicholas’/Santa’s/Father Christmas’ famous reindeer:

‘More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!

Not to mention the famous (and technically still copyrighted) Rudolf!

So, to get us all into the festive spirit, here’s a little quiz about animals at Christmas… We’ll post the answers before the New Year, and let us know how you got on through the Facebook page – but no cheating with Google!

  1. What Christmas decoration is inspired by spiders – and why?
  2. What animal is responsible for the tune of Silent Night?
  3. How many animals were delivered on the Twelfth Day of Christmas in the Carol?
  4. What do wild reindeer eat (their natural food – not counting carrots and mince pies!)?
  5. When were reindeer fully domesticated?
  6. Who was famous as the first person to eat turkey for Christmas dinner?
  7. Why do robins sing, even in the winter?
  8. Why is Christmas cake bad for dogs?
  9. What bird was traditionally hunted over Christmas, as part of early British celebrations?
  10. According to legend, what do horses, cattle and donkeys do at midnight on Christmas Eve?

Good luck everyone, and a very merry Christmas to you and all your animals!