The Legend Of Robin Redbreast
The Legend Of Robin Redbreast is from A Christmas Stocking by Louise Betts Egan. It tells the story of how the robin got his red breast after burning himself on a fire he fanned to keep the baby Jesus warm.
Another legend says that the robin’s breast is red because of his association with Christ’s death and crucifixion. When Jesus was on the road to Calvary it is said that a robin plucked a thorn from Christ’s temple and a drop of Jesus’ blood fell on the robin’s chest, turning it red.
On that first Christmas, it is said, the night was wrapped in a bitter chill. The small fire in the stable was nearly out, and the Mother Mary worried that her baby would be cold. She turned to the animals about her and asked them for help.
“Could you blow on the embers,” she asked the ox, “so the fire might continue to keep my son warm?”
But the ox lay sound asleep on the stable floor and did not hear her. Next, Mary asked the donkey to breathe life back into the fire, but the sleeping donkey did not hear Mary either. Nor did the horse or sheep. She wondered what to do.
Suddenly, Mary heard a fluttering of little wings. Looking up, she saw a plain, brown-coloured little robin fly into the stall. This robin had heard Mary calling to the animals and had come to help her himself. He went over to the dying fire and flapped his wings hard.
His wings were like little bellows, huffing and puffing air onto the embers, until they glowed bright red again. He continued to fan the fire, singing all the while, until the ashes began to kindle.
With his beak, the robin picked up some fresh, dry sticks and tossed them into the fire. As he did, a flame suddenly burst forth and burned the little bird’s breast a bright red. But the robin simply continued to fan the fire until it crackled brightly and warmed the entire stable. The Baby Jesus slept happily.
Mary thanked and praised the robin for all he had done. She looked tenderly at his red breast, burned by the flame, and said “From now on, let your red breast be a blessed reminder of your noble deed.”
And to this day, the robin’s red breast covers his humble heart.