This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Spot the frippet: robin.

Robins have long been associated with the season of, well, er,


No, really. The red breast is supposed to have been caused when a robin was stained by Christ's blood when it sat on His shoulder ease His pain by singing to Him.

In fact robins have long had a taste for high company: they used to be associated with the god Thor, too. I must say, though, that nowadays  they're not so fussy: we have our own robin in the garden which sings to us and dances round our feet whenever we start digging.

Our robin is a European robin, but there are redbreasted birds called robins all over the world. For instance, there's the American robin, Turdus migratorius:


 which is a bit bigger than my robin; and there are Australian  scarlet robins:

File:Female scarlet robin.jpg

 as well.

So why are robins all over Christmas cards?

Well, it seems to be because in the 1800s in England the postmen wore red waistcoats. This gave the postmen the nickname Robin - and because then, as now, Christmas brought with it a lot of post there began to be a natural association of robins with Christmas.

My own robin keeps his bright black eyes on me as he hops round my feet (though he may be a she, it's not possible to tell) and those lovely robin eyes are extraordinary - or, at least, one of them is, because one of a robin's eyes can see the magnetic field of the earth. It helps them migrate - though my own English robin is too stuffed full to bother about migrating.

Happy Christmas!

Spot the frippet: robin. This bird was first called the redbreast, but a fashion in the 1500s for giving things the names of people led to Robin Redbreast, and hence to Robin.

If you don't have a local version of a robin then there's always Batman's friend, isn't there.

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