Why do we associate Robins with Christmas? The legends of our Christmas Robin!

If you have ever wondered why red robins are associated with Christmas, postmen in Victorian Britain were nicknamed “Robins” because of their red-breasted coloured uniforms. So the Robin on the Christmas card came to represent the postman who delivered the card yet there are links that pre date this explanation.

Legend has it that the Robin’s redbreast provides a direct link to Christianity as the Robin pulled a thorn from the crown of Christ whilst he was on the cross and sang to relieve his suffering, it was Christ’s blood that created the Robins red breast. Other folklore indicates that when the baby Jesus was in his manger in the stable, the fire which had been lit to keep him warm started to blaze up very strongly. A brown Robin, noticing that Mary had been distracted by the inn-keeper’s wife, placed himself between the fire and the face of baby Jesus. The Robin fluffed out its feathers to protect the baby, but in so-doing its breast was scorched by the fire. These red plumage was then passed onto future generations of Robins. Have you noticed a Robin’s red-breast is actually orange? The bird was named before the English language had a word for the colour ‘orange’. Many things that were really orange were called red instead even though we did have the word for ‘orange’ as in the fruit. The colour orange was not named as a colour in English until the 16th century. The name for the colour comes from the fruit.


Our affection for the Robin was cemented in 1960 when it was voted our national bird. Christmas Robins will forever be commemorated on Christmas cards so lets hope they remain a common sight in our gardens for future generations to appreciate their fabled history.