Friday, December 9, 2011

The Legend of the Robin Redbreast

Following is an excerpt from Christmas Past in Essex by Elizabeth Wallace

One of the most delightful birds seen at Christmastime and probably the most featured animals seen on Christmas cards (in the U.K.) is the robin redbreast. Robins are so closely associated with Christmastime that many myths and legends surround the friendly little bird.

One the most popular tales is that a little brown robin tried to remove the thorns in Jesus’ crown and, as he did so, a droplet of His blood fell on the robin’s breast turning it red in the process.

Another tale is that a robin who tried to fan the dying embers in the stable where Christ was born. In doing so, one of the hot embers fell out and turned the little bird’s breast red, but he continued regardless with his duties in an effort to keep Jesus warm in the manger. 

Yet another story concerns a superstition that if one sees a robin first thing on Christmas morning, one will have good luck in the coming year. Needless to say, many people provide all sorts of incentives to get the little bird to visit their homes. They provide crumbs, tiny pieces of meat and suet to encourage the little feathered friend to gather where he can easily been seen. A favourite rhyme:

“Robins and wrens - Be God Almighty’s friends.”