The Christmas Robin

Christmas Robin

Happy Christmas to everyone who is kind enough to read, like or comment on my posts…

In 1960 the Times Newspaper conducted a poll to identify Britain’s favourite bird.  Not surprisingly, the Robin had a landslide victory and as a result there was a campaign to have it adopted as Britain’s national bird.

The Government however did not respond to the concept (the Tories were in power at the time and this had no benefit for the rich people in the country) and Britain remains therefore without an official avian representative!  As a sort of consolation the Robin was used as a symbol of a Bird Protection Society but only for a few years before this was discontinued.


Unlike other woodland and garden birds the robin rarely migrates away and is probably for this reason that we associate them with Christmas, taking a starring role as they do every year on thousands of Christmas cards.  Everyone gets a least one Christmas card with a Robin on it, go on take a look, you will see that I am right!

The Robin has also appeared on a complete set of Christmas postage stamps in 1995 and before that in 1966 in a ‘Birds of Britain’ set.

Birds of Britain The Robin

An old English folk tale seeks to explain the Robin’s distinctive red breast and legend has it that when Jesus was dying on the cross, the Robin, then simply brown in colour, flew to his side and sang into his ear in order to comfort him in his pain.  The blood from his wounds stained the Robin’s breast and after that all Robins got the mark of Christ’s blood upon them.

Because their home colours are red at least eight English football clubs are nicknamed ‘The Robins’.  Only one other bird is the nickname of more than one club and that is the Magpie, so the Robin is rather over-represented in this respect.  Here is my list, but there are probably some more…

West Bromwich Albion         Throstles (Song Thrush)

Norwich City                           Canaries

Newcastle United                   Magpies

Notts County                           Magpies

Leeds  United                          Peacocks

Sheffield Wednesday             Owls

Crystal Palace                          Eagles

Cardiff City                               Bluebirds

Swansea City                            Swans

Torquay United                       Gulls

Brighton & Hove                     Seagulls

Kidderminster Town             Harriers

… and the Robins are: Cheltenham Town, Swindon Town, Bristol City, Wrexham, Altincham, Ilkeston Town, Bracknell Town and Selby Town!

None of these nicknames though are as interesting as my favourite.  Hartlepool United are known as the Monkeyhangers because during the Napoleonic wars the residents of the town allegedly mistook a monkey for a Frenchman and strung it up from the town gallows.

According to local folklore a French ship was wrecked off the coast and the only survivor was the monkey, the ship’s mascot wearing a French uniform.  On discovering the monkey, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach and since the unfortunate animal was unable to answer their questions (and many locals were unaware of what a Frenchman may look like) they concluded that the monkey was in fact a French spy and had it put to death.

This is H’angus the Hartlepool United club mascot…

H'angus the Monkey

Other famous Christmas Robins are the Boy Wonder in the Batman films because there is always a Batman movie on TV and the Robin Reliant car because there is always an episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’.  Also of course our most famous hero of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood, there is always a Robin Hood film at Christmas.

When my dad was a boy he kept a notebook about wild birds, this is his page about Robins…

Dads Robin page

56 responses to “The Christmas Robin

  1. How wonderful that you still have your dad’s notebook!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh heck! I did not expect to find us monkey hangers in this post. There’s no escape 😦 However I was down our marina yesterday and it was looking beautiful at sunset. 🙂 I hadn’t heard that about the blood of Christ, Andrew. It makes the bird even more endearing, and of course, suited to Christmas cards. It’s not quite light yet or I would count my robins. 🙂 At least 3, I think. Merry Christmas!


  3. ooh i thought we did now have a national bird, and that it was in fact the Robin. Am sure there was a ballot a year ago or so?!

    Such a fabulous post Andrew, and your father’s sketchbook is just wonderful. I have discovered one of my Dad’s from a scouting adventure, and it is a treasure trove 🙂


  4. Nice…


  5. A great post and I love to see your father’s notebook. What neat handwriting too. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, Andrew!


  6. Enjoyed this post, Andrew… Have a good Christmas!


  7. i love the stories – happy christmas to you )


  8. We have a robin or two down here but they aren’t as common as yours would appear to be.


  9. Merry Christmas! I saw my first and only Robin in Oxford a couple of years ago. We don’t have them in Brisbane…what a pity.


  10. Great post! I have done as instructed and found I have 4 robin cards – considerably outnumbered by cute puppies though. Happy Christmas!


  11. Lovely post! With their bright breasts, robins look almost like flying ornaments, especially in the winter when everything else is so dull. However, I will always think of the turkey as the bird of Christmas–not nearly as pretty, but certainly meatier and yummier!


  12. The sightings of robins in our part of Canada is pure joy each spring. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas Andrew and many sincere thanks for your following along our adventures this past year. Now I’m off to check the cards to see if I can spot a robin. Not something I ever thought of.


  13. The descendants of the Monkeyhangers took it one stage further, of course. In the mayoral elections they elected H’Angus the monkey, the football team mascot, mayor of the town,,.
    He’s been re-elected at least twice.


  14. Q.I. as ever. I can’t thing of other bird football nicknames off the top of my head. Exeter’s former speedway team were the Falcons and if Leighton Buzzard have a football team I would hazard a guess at their nickname!


  15. I’m assuming from your remarks re the Tory Gov that you are of the left wing persuasion; me too 🙂 I’m a proud card carrying member of the Australian Labour Party and like the Robin our colour is RED 🙂

    Loved the post and I wish you a very happy “New Year”


  16. Fear Andrew and Kim.
    The true joy of Christmas is found in the circle of family love. Joy and peace from our family to yours!


  17. Merry Christmas! Wishing you a wonderful year ahead, Andrew


  18. This is such an interesting Christmas post, with lots I didn’t know – is that first robin fluffed up against the cold? Have a merry Christmas and I’m off to check my cards.


  19. Merry Christmas from the Pacific Paratrooper!


  20. Merry Christmas! We are having a white Christmas this year in Washington state. I have enjoyed your travel posts.


  21. A bit late, but wishing you and yours a happy Christmas! I think your robin is so much cuter than ours. Lucky you to have that lovely book your dad kept! He must have really liked birds to keep such detailed notes and the picture is wonderful.


  22. Hope you had a good Christmas.


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