Advent Calendar: 6 December – Robin

Illustration of the robin or robin redbreast (Erithacus rubecula) from the hand-coloured engraved plates of Prideaux John Selby’s Illustrations of British ornithology, published in 1841 (rfx QL690.S3 Volume 1). Selby (1788-1867) was a natural history artist, ornithologist and botanist.

Robins are strongly associated with Christmas and have featured on Christmas cards since the mid-19th century. While folklore has connected robins with early Christianity, in Britain the association with Christmas comes from the Royal Mail postmen who delivered Christmas cards. The postmen were nicknamed ‘robins’ due to their red or scarlet uniforms. Some of the earliest depictions of robins on Christmas cards have letters in their beaks and the robin has often been depicted on stamps.

2 responses to “Advent Calendar: 6 December – Robin

  1. Robins have a particular association with medieval St Andrews. St Duthac, who stayed for a time in a house in South Street, a house of which there is presumably little or no physical trace, was deeply attached to Robins, and after his death flocks of robins came to the garden of this house and may be there today. It used to be said that that house was haunted by St Dothan’s robins.

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