The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973


'A Christmas message'

From BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) Editorial 1980 in Animal Welfare

From the time when Man first celebrated the turning-point of Winter and began to plan for Spring, the period currently known as Christmas has become throughout the world a period of serious consideration of the future and, generally, a time, too, of rough and ready junketing.

In the Mediterranean countries, the Saturnalia was a period of preparation for the following human baby harvest; the same very largely applies to the feast of Yule that was kept by those who lived in the far more frozen North.

With the introduction of the somewhat more respectable influence of Christianity those humans who were drawn to the latest in religions felt that they had been given something in the way of a bonus – the first Christmas present was, in fact, direct from God and was in the form of the deity’s own divine child.

In Winter, it has for long been the custom to house domestic animals within human habitation. However cruel or crude our forebears may have been (and perhaps we have only to look closely at ourselves to gain insight into the past) they realised that unless they took steps to take their animals under their roofs those creatures would die.

The legend of the first Christmas seems to have its roots in this tradition. The Christ-child is playing as it were a natural role in the normal human-to-animal winter situation.

And, looking back on one’s childhood excitement over this annual festive ritual one can recall a strong visceral feeling at this perhaps over-sentimentalised at-one-ness between God through his tiny Son and the non-human animal Creation.

It was something that made one feel particularly happy.

However, from an adult viewpoint there is little about Christmas to delight the heart of today’s animal welfarist. Very much the opposite; in all truth, not even the next big Christian feast, that of Easter, reaps a bloodier harvest of our fellow creatures.

The matter of Man’s celebration of Christmas by the mass slaughter and eating of animals is dealt with in greater depth elsewhere in this issue.

What concerns us here is the plight of animals which are not intended for the table but which, nevertheless, suffer from human stupidity, callousness and neglect.

Namely, all the animals unfortunate enough to have been given as presents to humans who are either unfit to have charge of another living creature, unwilling to take on the long-term responsibility, or unwilling in the case of puppies to pay the almost insignificant sum involved in licensing these animals when they reach the age of six months.

This sadly recurring theme was one that deeply concerned the BUAV’s former President, Betty Earp*, whose death in October was announced in the last issue of Animal Welfare.

During her seven-year term of office, as many readers will recall, she used regularly at Christmas to appeal to readers not to overlook the plight inevitably within weeks of the Season of Goodwill of unwanted and abandoned “presents”.

It was Betty Earp’s wish that she should not be remembered with flowers when she died, but by gifts of money to the BUAV. Plans are in hand to establish a charitable fund in her name to this cause.

Animal Welfare, wishing to pay its own tribute, offers in her memory what it believes to be a front cover that spells out non-verbally what Betty Earp so obviously felt, and so regularly wrote, on the subject of animals who were the unwitting victims of a season of mutual affection and self-admiration among hypocritical humans.

Reproduced with thanks to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

*See: Her Work is For Animals

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