The Prodigal Son is the younger of two sons who demands his inheritance from his father. His father gives it to him and as with many others, his fortune is difficult to bear. The son travels to faraway places, squandering his money and when famine strikes, out of desperation he chooses to raise pigs, in the knowledge that should he need to, he would be willing to eat their feed.
Daydreaming of home and his father’s servants who have more than enough to eat, the son gathers the courage to return home. His father sees him in the distance and feeling sorry for him, runs to him, falling on him and kissing him. “Father”, says the son, “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son.” But his father orders his servants to fetch the most beautiful of robes, sandals and a ring for his son. “Bring the fatted calf and slaughter it. Let us eat and celebrate my son’s return. He was dead and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.”
This is an excerpt from the Parable of the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament. The text is allegorical. Everyone knows who the father and his two sons are meant to be. The evangelist calling for a fatted calf demonstrates that this animal has been seen as a symbol of celebration for thousands of years. That speaks volumes!