Unlike many other birds – the mallard for example – both the male and the female robin are equally beautifully coloured. Their song is beautiful too and is familiar in gardens up and down the country. Robins are probably the UK’s favourite bird. Their popularity is no doubt enhanced by their association in our minds with Christmas.
And yet traditional tales associate the robin more with Easter than Christmas. It is said in some places, for example, that the robin was originally completely brown - that is, until the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. It was on this day that the robin is said to have perched on Jesus’ to softly sing in his ear in the hope that it would relieve some of the pain he was suffering. While doing this some of Jesus’ blood stained the little birds chest and since that day all the robins have red breasts in memory of that one kind act. Another version of the story says that it got its redbreast when it pulled the thorns out of Jesus’ crown. Yet a third tale claims that the bird’s chest got singed red when it took water to the souls in hell and was singed by the fire!
Perhaps it’s good that the robin links together Christmas AND Easter. In our consumer society the world is quite happy to retell the tale of the baby Jesus, but at Easter our eyes are seduced away from the suffering of Jesus of the cross. Yet for Christians the life of Jesus has to be taken as whole: the birth, the death – and the resurrection.
‘ "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." ’
‘We thank you, Jesus, that you are with us at the beginning and end of things; when times are hard and when we are joyful. Amen’