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Fox legend is well worth believing

Cribs come in all shapes and sizes and exude varying degrees of piety, or cheeriness, depending on which set of people, or what establishment, happens to be displaying this Christmas tradition.

As a campaigner against bloodsports, my own favourite is the crib that appears every year at my local church: in addition to the usual cast of donkey, cow, and a few sheep, there's a fox.

The effigy recalls a legend associated with the Holy Family. According to it, the Three Wise Men left a fox cub as a gift.

When the cub had grown to maturity, King Herod was intent on killing Jesus. His warriors set off with packs of baying bloodhounds to track down the child he feared might one day threaten his power.

The legend relates that the fox, out of a divine loyalty, threw the hounds off the scent, enabling Mary, Joseph and Jesus to escape.

Like all legends, we'll never know how much truth there is in the story. I prefer it to the stark and depressing reality of how we treat the fox in the present day.


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