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Family shocked by “moving ornament” in Christmas tree


Katie McBride Newman | Facebook | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/20/19

The discovery of an owl could bode well for the family, given the meaning of religious symbols.

There have been stories of cats in Christmas trees and even a snake, but recently the Newman family in Georgia discovered a more unusual addition to their Christmas tree: an Eastern screech owl!

Last week, while mom Katie McBride Newman was busy clearing dishes, her 10-year-old daughter, India, came rushing to tell her that an owl ornament on the tree had scared her. In the report by Leah Asmelash for CNN, Newman explained that her daughter then burst into tears. With the mom-of-two being a fan of the nocturnal bird, she’d actually decorated the tree with several owl ornaments. So when she discovered that the ornament in question was a real life owl turning its neck to stare directly at her, she took it all in her stride and simply told her daughter, “Oh, that’s a real owl.”

Newman’s husband, Billy, worked out that the owl had probably been with the family since they got their tree after Thanksgiving. The family was therefore worried that the owl was under-nourished. Although they left their windows open overnight in a bid to encourage the bird to fly back to nature, their new feathered friend stayed put. Newman then rang Chattahoochee Nature Center for advice.

After leaving  some raw chicken outside for the bird, an employee from the center visited the family to lend a helping hand. They identified the owl and gave it a little health check. Luckily the bird had not sustained any injuries and just needed a little nutrition. The family then followed the instructions given to them by the environmental center and left the bird in a box in a darkened room. Once it was dark outside they took the box out, and by 9:30 p.m. their guest had flown off.

While owls are commonly known for their wisdom, they are sometimes associated with evil due to their nocturnal habits. However, the Newman family’s visitor might have represented something a little more positive: in Christian art owls are sometimes seen in pictures depicting the Crucifixion. They are said to be symbolic of those who have been redeemed by Christ, whose death was “to give light to them that sit in darkness.” (Cf. Luke 1:79)

The Newman owl could also be said to be watching over the family. Owls can often be present in pictures of hermits at prayer, echoing the hermit in perfect solitude, and forever vigilant. Katie Newman maintains she can still hear her owl hooting away at night, so perhaps it is indeed keeping watch over its adoptive family.

Aberdeen Bestiary

Read more:
The multiple meanings of owls in Christian art


Read more:
The real meaning and origin of the Christmas tree

ChristmasReligious symbolism
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