So, Mary Rode on a Donkey – Right?
The Nativity story is always told at Christmas time and you probably think you know it well. So, to test your knowledge, and because quizzes are fun, here is a Christmas Quiz.
Read the statements below and decide if they’re true or false, using what we know from the Bible accounts. It did of course happen a long time ago, so using our historical knowledge of that period, some answers will have to be “probably true” or “unlikely”. The answers are below……Can you get them all right?
1. An angel told Mary she would have a baby.
2. Angels have wings.
3. Angels have magic wands.
4. Joseph was pleased and excited when Mary told him she was having a baby.
5. Mary and Joseph were married when Mary had the baby.
6. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth.
7. Mary rode on a donkey when they travelled to Bethlehem.
8. Joseph knocked on lots of doors, looking for somewhere to stay.
9. All the hotels were full.
10. The baby was born on the night that they arrived in Bethlehem.
11. The baby was born in a stable.
12. Mary put the baby in an animal’s food trough.
13. Mary wore a blue head shawl.
14. The new baby was wrapped in swaddling bands.
15. Shepherds were told the baby had been born, on the actual night of his birth.
16. The shepherds were scared of the angel.
17. The shepherds visited Jesus the night he was born.
18. The shepherds told people what they had seen.
19. The shepherds took a gift of a lamb.
20. Angels told wise men that a baby had been born.
21. There were 3 wise men.
22. We know the names of the wise men.
23. The wise men visited Jesus the night he was born.
24. When Jesus was a baby he never cried.
Christmas Quiz Answers
An angel told Mary she would have a baby. True Luke 1:31
Angels have wings. Probably, sometimes. They are described as having wings in Revelation. However, they were often mistaken for men and therefore must not always appear with wings.
Angels have magic wands. False. Angels are real. They are NOT fairies!!!
Joseph was pleased and excited when Mary told him she was having a baby. False. Matthew 1:19. He was rather shocked, as they weren’t yet married (see below) and so he assumed she had been unfaithful and planned to ‘divorce’ her.
Mary and Joseph were married when Mary had the baby. False. Luke2:5. They were betrothed – or promised to be married.
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. True. Luke 2:4
Mary rode on a donkey when they travelled to Bethlehem. Unlikely. There is no mention of a donkey. Ask any woman who has been pregnant if she would want to ride a donkey and she will say no. Just trust me on this. Joseph was a carpenter, he probably made a cart for her to ride in.
Joseph knocked on lots of doors, looking for somewhere to stay. Unlikely. Joseph’s family came from Bethlehem. As there was no room in an inn, they would probably stay with relatives (though with so many people returning to Bethlehem it was probably very crowded.)
All the hotels/inns were full. True. Luke 2:7 11. Hence a lot of family, all being forced to arrive at the same time to register, would make for very full houses.
The baby was born on the night that they arrived in Bethlehem. Probably. However, not necessarily. The Bible does not say when Jesus was born but Nativity plays always show him born that night – because it makes for a good play.
The baby was born in a stable. Unlikely. They were probably staying with relatives. The houses would be teeming with extended family who had all arrived, and there would be very little space. Therefore, in order to have some privacy, Mary probably gave birth down in the lower floor of the house, which is where people kept the animals.
Mary put the baby in an animal’s food trough. True. Luke 2:7 14.
Mary wore a blue head shawl. Unlikely. Although this is how she tends to be depicted on Christmas cards there is no reason why she always wore blue. She was a normal teenage girl and would have worn similar clothes to her friends.
The new baby was wrapped in swaddling bands. True. Luke 2:7. This was a traditional way to keep a baby warm and safe in those days. They were wrapped snugly in strips of cloth.
Shepherds were told the baby had been born on the actual night of his birth. True. Luke 2:11 17.
The shepherds were scared of the angel. True. Luke 2:9. In those days it was believed that if you saw an angel you would die. so, the poor shepherds were terrified!
The shepherds visited Jesus the night he was born. True. Luke 2:15 19. (And I have to say, as a mother, that after giving birth, I did not think, “Oh, I would love to now be visited by some smelly noisy strangers.” )
The shepherds told people what they had seen. True. Luke 2:17 20.
The shepherds took a gift of a lamb. Unlikely. They were working men off to see a new baby. They probably did not own the sheep they were looking after as it tended to be the special temple sheep that grazed on the hills around Bethlehem. (Also, how often do you take a smelly sheep when you go to visit a new baby?)
Angels told wise men that a baby had been born. False. They were star gazers and saw a star that signified the birth of a great king. Matthew 2:2. It is interesting that as astrologers, they ‘read’ the stars and knew an important person had been born. They then followed the star to Jerusalem, and nearly got him killed. Which shows, I think, that astrology is not really to be trusted. It wasn’t until someone bothered to read their scriptures, that they discovered that the baby was to be born in Bethlehem.
There were 3 wise men. Possibly. The Bible does not say. They gave 3 gifts, so people assume there were 3 men, but they may have brought the same gifts, or none, so we cannot be sure.
We know the names of the wise men. False. They are named in a song, not the Bible.
The wise men visited Jesus the night he was born. False. They came from the East, and started to travel when he was born (when the star appeared.) It probably took them months to travel to Jerusalem. As King Herod killed all boys under the age of two, it is likely that Jesus was a toddler when the wise men visited.
When Jesus was a baby he never cried. False. This idea is in “Away in a manger” not the Bible! Jesus was fully human, so would have done all the normal baby things that you did, which includes crying.
So, does it matter? Some aspects don’t matter at all, they just make for a good story/children’s play/Christmas carol. I love a good Nativity Play, the shepherds wearing tea-towels on their heads, Joseph with his runny nose, a doll thrown into a cardboard box.
However, the danger is that we forget what really happened. We sometimes put the Nativity story into the ‘children’s story’ box and we forget that it did happen and that it is meant to still have real impact today. If we dismiss the Nativity as ‘a nice story’ then we miss the point. The point is that God thought you were special, and he came so you could include him in your life. That is big, it is not just ‘a children’s story’ and it demands a response from us. Maybe that’s why it’s more comfortable to tell ourselves that Christmas is for children…
Thank you for reading. You can follow my blog at: anneethompson.com
Anne E. Thompson is an author. You can buy her novels from Amazon or bookshops (and they make very good gifts!) Which ones have you read?