Don’t Be an Ass! Celebrate the Real Christmas Donkey!

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You may be reading the title, asking yourself if I have lost it. “The Christmas donkey?” you may be asking. “What in the world is she talking about?”

Well, we all know that the Blessed Virgin Mary was heavily pregnant when she and St. Joseph traveled to Bethlehem following the census enrollment decree issued by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-5). While there’s no mention of the donkey in the Bible, it’s widely accepted as donkeys were commonly used to transport things in those days (and were cheaper than horses). Both Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich and Venerable Mary of Agreda, mystics, reportedly saw the Blessed Virgin Mary riding on a donkey in their visions of the Holy Family’s journey towards Bethlehem. If that wasn’t enough, a donkey carrying Jesus in the womb be a precursor to Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem on a donkey (and colt) on Palm Sunday towards the end of his life (Matt. 21:1-7).

So, how exactly can you honor this humble beast’s important role? Cue a dance party!

If you’re Italian (or have heard the English version of the song), you’re probably well aware of “Dominick the Donkey.” The song is quirky and fun for kids. However, I’m not recommending this particular song if only because the lyrics don’t mention the reason for the season – Jesus! It mentions Santa, presents, and Italy but nothing about Jesus. You can still have fun with that song but there is another song that I have in mind.

If you’re looking for a song about the Christmas donkey that actually mentions Bethlehem and Jesus, look no further than “Mi Burrito Sabanero.”

If you’re of Hispanic or Latin descent, odds are you’re already acquainted with the perennial Christmas song, “Mi Burrito Sabanero.” In this catchy tune, penned in the 1970s by Venezuelan composer Hugo Blanco, we hear the story of the journey to see baby Jesus in the manger alongside a trusty donkey. The tune rivals “Baby Shark” in its earworm quality that stays with you for quite some time after listening to it. It’s a fun way to bring the nativity story to life for young children. While they might not quite understand the lyrics (depending on how old they are), in later years they’ll listen to it and remember it fondly.

While there is no English translation, it doesn’t have to be solely a song enjoyed by Spanish speakers around the world. Those who don’t speak Spanish can still enjoy it, too! Are you a little wary of what the lyrics may say? Here is my (rough) translation of the lyrics for you. And, yes, I’m sure of the translation—Spanish is actually my first language!

“With my little savanna donkey, I’m on my way to Bethlehem,
With my little savanna donkey, I’m on my way to Bethlehem,
If they see me, if they see me,
I’m on my way to Bethlehem

The morning star illuminates my path,
The morning star illuminates my path,
If they see me, if they see me,
I’m on my way to Bethlehem.

With my little guitar I go singing, my little donkey keeps on trotting,
With my little guitar I go singing, my little donkey keeps on trotting,
If they see me, if they see me,
I’m on my way to Bethlehem.

Tuki tuki tuki tuki,
Tuki tuki tukita,
Hurry up, my little donkey,
Because we’re almost there.

Tuki tuki tuki tuki,
Tuki tuki tukitu,
Hurry up, my little donkey,
We’re going to see Jesus…”

The song lyrics then repeat once more before the song ends. See? Very sweet and innocent yet you get the significance.

It can get a little much for some parents after hearing it for the 100th time but, do not fret! Unlike “Baby Shark”, you have the excuse to only play it during Christmas. Whether you do to the 12 days of Christmas or celebrate until Candlemas, you still have the excuse to not play it year ‘round. You’re welcome!

Here’s an illustrated video if your little ones don’t speak Spanish and want to follow along with the lyrics.

So, while you’re trying to bring the story of the Nativity to life, consider celebrating the hard work of the humble beast that helped the Holy Family’s journey. Don’t worry, no one will judge you for singing and dancing along to it even if you’re a grown adult. We all do it around this time of year. Really!

Love1

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