Merry Christmas, everyone!
From the tasty turkey dinner to red-breasted robins, turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree, there are so many different birds which we associate with the festive season. Have you ever wondered just why we look forward all year to a lovely roasted turkey, or why people hang certain birds on their Christmas trees? Well now you don’t have to wonder – we have done a little research on the symbolism and history behind these birds, to find out once and for all what makes our favourite festive birds so stocking-filling festive in the first place!
It’s Turkey Day!
Let’s start off our flight into the world of Christmas birds with the traditional turkey – the centrepiece of many a Christmas Day meal across the nation, but why? The tradition of having a turkey for Christmas can actually be traced back to the Tudor period in Britain, with the notorious King Henry VIII who was the first monarch to request turkey as part of the royal festive feast. From this point, a trend began to slowly build across the kingdom until it really skyrocketed in the 19th century as the non-native bird became more affordable for the average Brit. Thank goodness!
Two Turtles Doves…
Next up on our winged journey through the festive season are two of many birds that are featured in the classic 12 Days of Christmas song: turtle doves, and the lovely wee partridge in a pear tree! When many people hear turtle doves, they think about the heart-warming Christmas sequel ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ where a young Macaulay Culkin buys a pair of turtle dove decorations to split with his new friend as a symbol of lasting friendship and love. This idea of love and togetherness also links to the biblical symbolism of the turtle dove as an emblem of the peace and purity of the Holy Spirit which are all very important to the story of Christmas itself.
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree!
The partridge in a pear tree also has its roots in religious scripture, linking the Christmas holiday to another very important event in the Christian calendar – the Easter story, and the sacrifice of Christ. In the classic Christmas song, the partridge in the tree seems to represent Jesus on the cross, as a mama partridge will feign injury and sacrifice herself to keep her nesting children safe. So now we know what one of the most iconic Christmas songs is really all about: love, peace, sacrifice and family, all beautiful things to keep in mind as we celebrate the Christmas season with our loved ones near and far!
‘Turtle Doves in Culture‘, OperationTurtleDove
For more fun festive facts and decorating ideas, why not check out some of our other Christmas blogs below? Merry Christmas!