Image: American Bee Journal, December, 1944
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Via. Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
circa. 1903 - Christmas Folklore in the Ozarks
At the birth of Christ on Christmas eve, the bees are said to stir in their hives and hum a great song of praise, but one must not disturb them, for, as they are careful not to intrude upon the celebrations of mankind, so man must not interfere with their celebration of the birth of the Christ child. Bees hummed the Old Hundredth Psalm at midnight. Several hives set together sent a satisfying praise booming far across the garden.
The cattle in the byres joined the bees celebration of Christmas by turning to the east at midnight in imitation of the beasts at Bethlehem. Some believed they could also speak on this night and would bellow their adoration, but tradition was held that the animals must never be disturbed during the eve of Christmas.
Some skeptics did not head the warnings. One Ozarks man closely watched his father's oxen but his father insisted that human observer broke the spell. Guernsey farmers provided extra hay but never dared to loiter to see it eaten. One did test his courage but the cowshed door slammed shut, he dropped dead and no one repeated the experiment. A Nova Scotia farmer heard his cattle say: "Tomorrow we'll be drawing wood to make our master's coffin." The shocked farmer dropped dead on the spot, and as late as 1928 no one on this farm went near the cattle on Christmas Eve. They were fed in the afternoon.
Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore,
and the Occult Sciences of the World (1903)
edited by Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens
Discovering Christmas customs and folklore:
a guide to seasonal rites - Page 25
Margaret Baker - 1992