I only just found out that "manger" isn't a synonym for crib, but a trough for feeding animals

I can remember my mother explaining it to me. She did so in reaction to a Christmas pageant in which the innkeeper was denigrated for forcing poor pregnant Mary to sleep in a stable, and use a feed trough for the crib. My mother explained that the innkeeper was actually being nice, because the stable was likely to be one of the warmer places available, because the body heat of the animals would warm things up. And my father the veterinarian chimed in that this was one of the reasons farm cats hang out in the barn. Trust a cat to find comfort.

Plus the lyrics to another Christmas carol -

“I”, said the cow, all shaggy and red,
“I gave him my manger to make him his bed.”


PS - a belated Merry Christmas.

When I was a little kid, we lived on a place that had a really old classic barn. There was an opening from the hayloft to throw hay down into the mangers for the cows (if we had them). Never used a different word for a simple hay feeding thing. A “trough” would be for higher grade food and made of better quality. Not so rough and full of holes. And also a lot messier. Harder to clean out in order to put a newborn in.

Nowadays, one might hear “manger” to describe a hay feeding system where the hay is behind rails and barely accessible to the livestock. They would tug on the hay from the bottom to pull it out to eat it. Very tall and really hard to get a baby in and out of.

Chickens and pigs eat from a feed trough; I think a manger is specifically straw or hay laid in a bier higher up from the ground for a taller herbivore like a horse, cow or donkey.

Maybe babies slept in boxes of hay back then, who knows?

I’ve never given any conscious thought to any of it but I think I thought the manger was the stable.

What’s the original word… Greek, I’d assume?

I though a trough was for grain or slop and a manger was for hay.

Shit, I was hoping for a lot of posts saying something like “Me too! You’re not a complete dumbass!”.

Although I’m familiar with that carol, I don’t remember ever singing it or knowing the words beyond “away in a manger”.

I didn’t expect an ancient Hebrew crib to look like modern cribs.

They made sure we knew what it meant, our church was big on the whole ‘Isn’t it amazing that God would sacrifice so much to be born in a stable and sleep in something the animals ate out of?’ thing.

Count me as another person that thought manger was a stall in the stable. I’ve never heard that word used outside of the nativity.

We had feed bins, feed troughs, and water troughs at my relatives farms.

A baby would fit in a feed trough. Needs some hay for cushioning.

I’m surprised to learn manger is the same thing. Learned something today. :wink:

Okay, I answered my own question (fine lot of on-demand researchers YOU all are!) Here’s a quote from a biblical discussion blog:

Going to Google Translate with the word, it comes back “manger” but with almost equal distribution for manger, stall, crib and rack.

Am I detecting some slight punning or alliterative writing by the original author, or did Mary decide to put Jesus on the rack to get the Truth out of him?

In modern usage a manger is different from a trough, and it’s a relatively common word in the horse world, synonymous with “hay rack”. It’s for forage, like hay, plant stalks, etc, and its open or slatted so that the animals pull bits out from the sides as well as the top (sometimes it’s set high so that hay can only be pulled from the sides). Horses usually have a manger for their hay, and a feed tub for their grain. Since the animals pull the feed out, they don’t (usually) drool into it or spit back half chewed bits like when they eat grains from a trough. mangers are usually the cleanest, softest spot you’e going to find in a barn, and much favored by feline residents. :smiley:

But speaking of troughs, since it looks like “though” I thought it it sounded like “trow” for ages. Same for “slough”. (troff and sluff, for those playing at home).

The tough coughs as he ploughs the dough. - Theodore Seuss Geisel

Back in the Nineties, before the explosion of cigarette taxes in NY, a certain Greenwich Village newsstand, run by Arabs, as it appeared to me, put up a little hand-written poster advertising cigarettes for “$2 per manger”.

How stupid. You could swaddle a newborn and place it on a heap of manure and I don’t think it would be bothered.

I worked on dairy farms so cows were the primary livestock. We called the things they ate hay out of feed troughs.

I can forgive your ‘mental lapse’, no problem.

What bothers me more is the fact that I always assumed that you were a Reverend named Tim.

I’m guessing I was wrong?

I know what it is, probably because it was explained to me in context of nativity scenes when I was child, but I don’t believe in my entire life I have ever read or heard the word used except in the context of nativity scenes/Christmas references. And I grew up in the rural Midwest among farms (although not a farm family). If it’s used at all in modern times, it may be very regional or jargon of a very small subset of farming.

To confuse things further: The original meaning of the word “crib” was “manger”.

I knew what a manger was, even if I never heard the word used outside of the context of the nativity. I’d been around cattle farmers, and it was obviously a feed trough thing.

However, I had never been around sheep farmers, and certainly I had never been around shepherds.

So, you know the part in Silent Night where “shepherds quake at the sight”? I just thought quaking was something…shepherds did. Maybe it was a noise they made to comfort the sheep. You know, like cowboy songs.

I’m pretty sure I was an adult before it finally dawned on me…quake…earthquake. Oh, they were scared. They were trembling!