Why red robins are a symbol of Christmas in the UK

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Why red robins are a symbol of Christmas in the UK.

If you have ever wondered why red robins are associated with Christmas? Let me share with you two stories I’ve heard.

The first one is about postmen in Victorian Britain who were apparently nicknamed “robins” because of their red-breasted coloured uniforms. It then became popular to see these cute little birds on a Christmas card who came to represent ‘the postman’ delivering the card. What a sweet idea.

The second Christmas story involving this little bird is told of when a robin rested upon Jesus’ shoulder when he was on the cross and sang to relieve his suffering. Blood from Jesus’ crown of thorns stained the little bird’s chest, since then, all robins were red breasted.

However you may have 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. And the name has stuck ever since.

I am so lucky to have these delightful birds in my garden and hear their beautiful birdsong. I’m so pleased they aren’t just for Christmas but all year round!

Merry Christmas to you


Source: QI Series K – Knees & Knockers

Originally written 20th December 2013. Updated 16th December 2021.

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