robin redbreast in a tree

When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin’ along

It’s December and almost time for my favourite festival of the year, Christmas. I love the lights, the colour, the spectacle, the camaraderie and the “Merry Christmas’s” said to all and sundry in the final week before the big day itself. I’ll happily trot around the neighbourhood looking at the lights in people’s homes, and when I’m travelling about I’m often the first to spot the Christmas lights in gardens. It always holds such promise and yes, before you ask, I do believe in Santa Claus!

This month, all the writing prompts are related to Christmas but are not necessarily about Christmas itself, unless of course, you choose to write that into your piece. I’m kicking off with a song prompt from Bing Crosby and the challenge is to write about an animal, bird or insect that you do or might associate with a celebration-without it being on the dinner plate!

Why is the Robin associated with Christmas?

There are two theories. In the first, a small brown bird protected the infant Jesus from the heat of the fire in the stable and his breast was scorched. The redness passed on down through the generations to the friendly robins we see today.

Another story tells us it was a robin that pulled a thorn from the crown Jesus wore on the cross coating his breast with Jesus’ blood.

And in the late 19th Century Victorian postmen wore red uniforms, as a proud link to the British flag, earning them the nickname ‘robin redbreast’. As Christmas drew near people all over England eagerly awaited cards from loved ones, delivered by their local ‘robin’. The small bird’s fate was sealed, as artists began illustrating Christmas cards with the birds delivering festive letters and cards. In 1960, the robin was voted the national bird of the United Kingdom and is still my husbands’ favourite bird down on the allotment or in the garden.

As usual, if you want to share your thoughts and writing I’d love to read it, and so would my lovely readers. Alternatively, share the prompt with a friend and see what you each come up with.

My effort is below:

Gävlebocken won this year’s fight with arsonists. Perhaps it was the coating he’d applied to his straw coat before standing so carefully throughout December in Gävle’s town square. He positioned himself just so, that way he could watch all the entrances and exits to the square. His beady eyes stared down shoppers and merrymakers throughout the long winter nights and short days, watching all the time for the first hint of trouble. If he saw it heading his way he would puff up and rattle the bells around his neck, flash the lights on his handle to let storekeepers and residents know something was afoot and they would amass buckets in hand to protect him through another pranksters attempt at murder. On January 1st he was tired and ready for rest and recuperation in the barn outside town before he took his turn on the Christmas streets again.

(Image by Kev from Pixabay)


  1. Thanks for this, Lynda – had to follow the link to make sense of the story, but another bit of local seasonal lore is always interesting. And as I’ve been feeling a bit blue myself, the ole crooner cheered me up. 🙂

    1. Oh no, I hope you’re feeling more yourself soon Lesley. I’ll send over an extra large hug xxx

  2. Hugs of any size always gratefully received. Was it Pooh that said “A hug is always the right size!” ? 🙂

    Decided to stay with the robin which is unofficially the UK’s national bird. We don’t have an official one. It amuses me that America has the Bald Eagle, and if we were given the right to choose, we’d pick the robin. That sent me off down the wiki-hole and I found that we’re not the only humble nation. While China has the Red-crowned Crane, Chile the mighty Condor and India the flamboyant Peacock…Italy has a sparrow and Latvia a wagtail. I also think there is something highly appropriate about Bhutan (favourite visited place of all time) choosing the common raven.

    I digress… back at the robin…

    ”Erithacus rubecula melophilus”

    Red-breasted Robin of the large dark eye,
    fluffing into a ball, a childlike thing,
    a plaything, a thing of joy.

    Small, and full of life and not the slightest
    timidity, you bound into our spaces
    with the innocence of glee,

    and cock your head enquiringly.

    A thousand beats a minute, from such
    a tiny heart, carrying all our myths
    and stories, with the outlaw

    Hood, sprite Goodfellow and
    even little Christopher,
    all named for thee,

    then later, hero of communiqués
    the humble British postie,
    another dying breed.

    Or were you named for them?
    In ruder times you were simply
    the red-ish, russet, Ruddock.

    And still you hopped and bopped
    from abandoned crocks for nests
    to spade-dug hummock,

    where the worms would be.

    But when you sing your autumn songs,
    I’ll pretend you’re not defending

    but are singing sweet soul music,
    just for me.

    ~ / ~

    1. Your last line is perfect and something I enjoy every time I hear the robin sing in our garden or our allotment Lesley “singing sweet soul music,
      just for me.” Perfection!

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