Why Are Robins Associated With Christmas?

Robin In The Snow

Think of a typical Christmas card and if it doesn’t depict three wise men, Santa and his reindeer, or a bunch of sprouts alongside a punny message, then it’s almost certain to have a robin on it.

Robins, whether they’re nestled amongst holly and ivy, bobbing about in the snow, or perched on top of a post box, are a familiar sight on Christmas cards and have been for over a century and a half.

Unlike a lot of British birds, robins don’t migrate to warmer climes during the winter, and they are also one of the few birds that continue to sing over the festive period. But it’s not because of their seemingly imperviousness to cold weather that they are associated with Christmas.

Although Christmas cards have been sent since the 17th century it wasn’t until Queen Victoria started sending ‘official’ Christmas cards in the 1840s that their popularity took off.

Back then, Royal Mail postmen wore bright red coats, a colour associated with royalty and the British flag. They were nicknamed ‘robins’ or ‘redbreasts’ after the little bird and Christmas cards were often illustrated with a ‘robin’ postie delivering cards or letters at Christmas.

At some point artists began to draw robins instead of postmen delivering the cards. Victorians were even known to kill robins for their feathers which they used to decorate Christmas cards. Snow scenes were also popular as a reminder of the very bad winter of 1836-37.

And so it was that an image of a robin in the snow became associated with Christmas. Today, robins don’t just appear on cards at Christmas – you can find them on everything from wrapping paper and candles to decorations, and tableware.

Festive birds

Robins at Christmas

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