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Robins and why we love to see them!

Merry Christmas from The Olde Christmas Shoppe! One of our favourite things about the festive season – from autumn through to the new year – is the appearance of the beautiful robin, the beloved small bird that is distinguished by its signature red breast. People are often mystified by this small creature when it begins to appear in our gardens, largely due to the robin’s symbolism across many different cultures which give them many roles from an omen of death to a more positive emblem of rebirth, hope and new beginnings…

The Legends of the Robin

Even in the UK nations alone, there are a number of different stories and superstitions about the arrival of a robin between our Celtic, Norse and Christian influences as well as location-specific folk tales. These tiny birds are loved by many in Britain, even despite their Norse roots as the favourite creature of the god Thor and the symbolic bringer of the ever-inconvenient thunderstorm! Don’t just take our word for it – the robin red-breast has been voted the unofficial National Bird of Great Britain by the public twice in 60 years, and in Irish and other Celtic traditions they were in fact so loved and venerated that to kill a robin or wren was believed to bring the punishment of fire to the hunter in some way. This particular superstition seemingly comes from an old Irish legend, a tale in which the fires of heaven were brought to earth by a very similar small bird – clearly, these winged creatures are not the birds to mess with! 

Of course, this is not the only time that the sweet little bird has been featured in a religious context – the robin is also often associated with the biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and is said to have gotten its signature red breast from the thorns of Jesus’ crown as the bird took pity and attempted to free him from the cross despite the risk to itself. From this story of the robin, many take a message of hope and kindness towards others less fortunate than yourself which is of course an important lesson that everyone can put to work in their day-to-day lives. 

In modern times, however, perhaps one of the most popular superstitions surrounding these beautiful wee birds is the common adage that “robins appear when loved ones are near”. This lovely sentiment comes from the belief that robins are in fact loved ones visiting from beyond this life, checking in on their families and friends during the festive season which can be difficult for many dealing with loss. It is for this reason that robin decorations and ornaments are often seen as a popular and thoughtful Christmas gift for those who have experienced loss – while the robin is associated in this way with death, they bring a more positive message of love and hope to such a sad time and offer a way for us to feel connected to loved ones who are no longer with us for Christmas. To join in this beautiful festive tradition, be sure to check out our own range of lovely little robin decorations for your tree or the tree of a loved one here.

Thank you for joining us on this festive journey as we’ve learned about Christmas traditions. To learn more check out these sources below and, as always, please have a browse of some of our other blogs here for the latest festive facts and decorating tips this Christmas season!

The Guardian, ‘Robin Wins Vote For UK’s National Bird’. 10 June 2015.

BirdSpot, ‘The Legend of Robin Redbreast’.

7 of the prettiest bird decorations for Christmas 2022

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