It’s there on almost every Christmas card featuring the scene of Christ’s birth, and in almost every school Nativity play: the donkey, or ass. But look at the gospel accounts of Christ’s birth, and you may be surprised: there is no donkey! So how has this much-loved seasonal character entered Christmas lore, and why has the donkey remained a Christmas favourite ever since? Jane Little goes in search of the Christmas donkey and its real-life descendants today.

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