Wintertime and Warmth

The story of the very first Christmas night tells of a child born into the world under the most humble of circumstances. The child's birthing place, we are told, was a simple shelter for a few farm animals.

Over the centuries many artists have painted this image. The child, modestly clad in the bitter cold night, is surrounded by a donkey, an ox, and sheep. The animals huddle near to the child to keep him warm. They offer him their warmth as protection from the cold.

Warmth plays a very important part in the healthy development of the young child. Keeping the young child's body warm allows for, and supports, the body's energies to be devoted to the task of growth, for the body itself and for the development of the brain and the inner organs.

Dressing the child in clothing produced from natural fibers can have a beneficial effect on the child's health. Fabrics made from natural fibers are derived from plants that have received long periods of sunshine. While flax (linen) needs a few months, cotton requires more than half a year of warm sunlight to fully mature.

Animal fibers, however, have a special quality. Not only do animals live in the sun's light and feed off the rich green plants of the earth, but through their own metabolic processes retain a warmth value that remains long after the animal's life is over. Wooly fleece, silk, feathers, fur, angora and mohair as well as leather when worn near the human body, provide a capacity for warmth that supports health in a way that no synthetic fiber can.

Synthetic fibers are manufactured from petrochemicals and gasses from deep within the earth. In this way they are more closely related to metals and other mineral substances. Fibers produced from these materials are used to create strong, durable fabrics. In a certain way, these synthetic fibers can be thought of as being akin to armor or "mail" - such as was worn by medieval knights.

Polar fleece and polyester are valuable materials especially in terms of recycled resource. Regarded as protective-wear, clothing made from these materials serve best when used as, perhaps, the outermost garment, a "shield" against cold and wet weather conditions.

Natural fibers, both plant and animal, having a unique relationship to sunlight, support a warmth mantle better suited to and complementary to the human body than those fabrics, which are produced from petroleum.

Since time immemorial, the animal kingdom has provided human kind with life-giving sustenance. At the winter solstice, the Christmas story reminds us how the beasts of the earth long to draw near to humanity.

The healthy child would do well to experience and express gratitude for the gift of warmth the animals offer, even long after the animal's lifetime.

"The donkey is breathing
The ox is blowing
To keep the baby warm
The little lamb snuggles
So close to the child
All on a Christmas morn."

—from a German Carol

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