Today Special : Feast of the Ass Day
The Feast of the Ass on January 14 began as a medieval Christian feast, and commemorates the Israelites’ flight into Egypt. It was predominantly observed in France as a variant of the Feast of Fools, which commemorated biblical donkey-related narratives, particularly the donkey that carried the Holy Family into Egypt following Jesus’ birth.
HISTORY OF FEAST OF THE ASS DAY
This feast may be a Christian adaptation of the pagan feast, Cervulus, and incorporating the Nativity story’s donkey. It was first held in the 1000s and celebrated various Bible stories. Additionally, it had a pseudo-Augustinian influence credited to the ‘Sermo contra Judaeos.’
After the Catholic Church publicly condemned the celebration in the second half of the 15th century, it became less popular. The Feast of Fools was also condemned during this period. Both feasts were thought to be improper, albeit the Feast of Fools was regarded as such far more than the Feast of the Ass.
The Feast of the Ass honors all of the Bible’s donkeys, particularly the one thought to have transported Jesus and his family to Egypt following his birth. The family was escaping Herod the Great’s assassination of young boys at the time. The donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is another biblical account of a donkey. A donkey is also said to have been present in the manger where Jesus was born.
A girl would ride a donkey through a town to a church on the day. As she rode through the streets, people would sing a song about her carrying a baby or being pregnant herself.
Once the donkey reached the church, it was given food and water and stood near the altar for the service. The crowd would bray back to the priest, and the priest would occasionally bray as well. The Feast of the Ass was especially rowdy in the city of Beauvais in northern France.
HOW TO CELEBRATE FEAST OF THE ASS DAY
- Ride a donkey : On the off chance that you own one, why not take a ride to celebrate Feast of the Ass Day. Alternatively, you can visit the zoo to see one in the flesh.
- Read up on the holiday’s history : Grab a Bible and learn about the story for yourself. Read the “Flight to Egypt” and surprise your friends with all the new information you’ve learned.
- Play donkey-themed games : There’s no reason you can’t have fun while celebrating. You can host donkey-themed games, such as “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
5 FACTS ABOUT DONKEYS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND
- Few and then far between : Donkeys can significantly differ in size; they can be a mere 26-inches or as tall as 68-inches.
- Efficient beasts : A donkey’s digestive system utilizes over 95% of what they consume.
- Going the distanceIn the desert, a donkey’s bray carries about 60 miles.
- Excellent vision : Donkeys have the ability to see all four of their feet at once.
- Powerful competition : A donkey is more powerful than a horse of similar size.
WHY WE LOVE FEAST OF THE ASS DAY
- We learn more about them : We get to learn more about donkeys and the role they played in popular Bible stories. Donkeys have an interesting history and we use this holiday to appreciate their versatility.
- We’re animal lovers : We love animals of all kinds. They make the world a more beautiful place to live in.
- Moving in high company : Donkeys were the transport mode of choice for the Messiah. That has to count for something, right?