If the “meaning” and spirit of the Christmas holiday season could be summed up in a single word, that word would be Love. We give and receive it in abundance among our friends and family members…and then, after New Year’s Day, all that good cheer subsides a bit as we return to our daily routines. But when it comes to our pets, somehow that feeling lasts all year long. They never get tired of us; they always love us; and when they wake up, every day for them is like Christmas morning all over again.
“Thus every beast by some glad spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Emmanuel.
The gift he gave Emmanuel.”
• • •
— From “The Friendly Beasts”
Probably one of the most famous and oldest poems featuring animals “in the Christmas spirit” is one known as “The Friendly Beasts.” This song dates back to a 12th-century French carol set to the melody of an old Latin song, “Orientis Partibus”; but it is most familiar nowadays in the form of a 1934 English translation by Robert Davis (1881–1950). It has been recorded by too many artists to count, including Burl Ives, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, and Peter, Paul & Mary, among others.
In that spirit, then, as the grey, grim days of November give way to the magic of December, herewith we hope to brighten your day with this photo gallery of the cutest darn “friendly beasts” you can imagine, all ready for the Christmas season.
Finally, as a special bonus, please enjoy this magnificent performance of “The Friendly Beasts” by Brian Stokes Mitchell and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.