The Animal Rights Messages in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’

Posted by on December 24, 2015 | Permalink

The traditional Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, which counts down 12 days starting with Christmas Day, will likely get stuck in your head this holiday season. We couldn’t help but think about the animal rights messages in the catchy tune.

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …”

 A Partridge in a Pear Tree

We wish all partridges were sitting happily in a pear tree this Christmas, but since the “shooting season” runs from October to February, many partridges, pheasants and grouse will be ruthlessly shot. Take a moment over the holiday break to let your MP know that shooting birds is a holiday tradition that we could do without.

Two Turtle Doves

Pigeons (also known as rock doves) can be victims of the cruel “sport” of pigeon racing. PETA US’ undercover investigation discovered that every year, hundreds of thousands of birds die during gruelling cross-channel races. You can help! Please contact Defra Minister George Eustice and ask that he take action to prevent more pigeons from suffering in cross-channel races.

Three French Hens

Chickens in crates for transport - bannerJo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Sadly, every year, millions of hens will be killed just for Christmas dinner. Chickens are the most intensively farmed animal in the UK, and most of them endure a short and miserable existence. There’s no need to eat a chicken or any other bird this Christmas, as you can enjoy a delicious vegan roast as the centrepiece of your holiday meal.

Four Calling Birds

NL pet trade_birds in cage

Birds are beautiful animals, and because of that, they’re popular “pets” and are typically housed in completely unsuitable cages. Animals bought from pet shops do not make suitable Christmas presents, so if you have space for a companion animal in your life, consider adopting from your local shelter.

Five Gold Rings


All the festive cheer over the holiday season means that many people get engaged over Christmas. If you scored a gold ring, you’re probably already planning how to tie the knot. You can spread the love at your wedding celebrations by having a vegan wedding, meaning no animals will be harmed during your big day!

Six Geese a-Laying

The sad fate of the male chicks born into the egg industry is to be killed on their first day of life, often by being thrown into a grinding machine or gassed. The female chicks are sent off to a life of misery as laying hens, many of them kept in tiny cages, where they can’t even spread their wings. You can stop this suffering from occurring in your name by having a delicious vegan Christmas feast instead.

Seven Swans a-Swimming


Mute swans may have some protection in the UK, but many other wild animals aren’t as lucky. Make sure that you’re kind to any wildlife, such as squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes or birds, you come across this Christmas or at any time of the year by not interfering with them and not disturbing their homes.

Eight Maids a-Milking

Cows in the dairy industry won’t be having a merry Christmas. The cycle of dairy production means female cows are constantly impregnated and then have their calves taken away from them shortly after birth so humans can consume their milk. There are so many delicious plant-based milks available, and their popularity is growing as more people ditch cruel cow’s milk!

Nine Ladies Dancing

Vegan Leather from VFA Text

Everyone loves a dance at Christmastime, but have you considered what your dancing shoes are made of? A recent PETA exposé revealed the horrific cruelty involved in the leather industry. Why not choose vegan leather options instead, available on the high street and from luxurious vegan fashion brands.

10 Lords a-Leaping

Fox Hunting Protest July 2015 (2)_mini

Animal rights activists were leaping for joy outside Parliament earlier this year, when the vote to overturn the fox hunting ban was cancelled. Celebrate the victory by reading these 10 fascinating facts about foxes, with cute pictures!

11 Pipers Piping

Are you a musician piping in the new year? From violin strings made of horsehair to drums made of skin, there are many strings to your bow that could be unwittingly made from animal products. You can avoid these by using this guide to animal-friendly instruments.

12 Drummers Drumming

Benetton crowd with cameras_mini

Bang your drum for animals in the new year! It’s easy to sign up and get involved with the PETA Action Team, where you can join us at demonstration, sign petitions, volunteer and share important animal rights campaigns online to help reach more people.