Merry Christmas everyone, from The Olde Christmas Shoppe! There are many iconic images that come to mind when we think of Christmas time – candy canes, Christmas trees and presents, to name a few! But one of the most loved symbols of the festive season can be found right on our doorstep: robins! While these birds are around all year long, they are much more noticeable in the winter time as they don’t migrate to warmer climates, choosing instead to move between their breeding grounds and foraging grounds at home – this is one reason among many why the robin has become synonymous with Christmas time, especially here in the UK.
Seasonal migration isn’t the only reason that we associate these lovely creatures with the festive season in the UK – to find out why, we need to go all the way back to Victorian Britain in the 19th century. The centuries-old tradition of sending out Christmas cards, while it seems pretty old-school for many in today’s world of technology, fell into fashion under the rule of Queen Victoria who began the royal tradition of sending an official Christmas card – it then became more popular amongst the people as a way to spread cheer during the festive season. The nation’s lingering association of robins with Christmas comes from this tradition as the postmen who would deliver the season’s greetings wore red-breasted uniforms which gained them the nickname ‘robins’. This fun nickname then appears to have led to the featuring of robins on Christmas cards themselves, and now they are a well-established emblem of all things festive!
As well as this old British tradition, the robin also features in some interpretations of the traditional Nativity story, the Christian roots of everybody’s favourite holiday. After the birth of Jesus, some believe that Mary lit a fire to keep her child safe and warm, and as the flame began to dwindle a kindly brown bird began to fan the flame with its tiny wings before an ember landed on and burned its feathered chest – this has become a common tale explaining the bold orange-red breast of the robin, and links the beautiful bird to the very beginning of the Christmas story!
To find out more about these amazing birds, check out this super-informative RSPB page as well as our other blogs, including a look at the symbolism of robins and loads of other fun Christmas tips and inspiration!