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
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
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
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
*See: Her Work is For Animals
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