"the robin, the friend of man"

A Friendly Robin
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA Friendly Robin - Credit: Jimfbleak
"Art thou the bird whom Man loves best/The pious bird with the scarlet breast/Our little English Robin?" - William Wordsworth

The European Robin is found across the continent, as far east as Siberia and south as North Africa.  They are regarded as friendly creatures as they show little fear of humans; in parts of Europe, supersition forbade harming the robin, which accounts for how this trust has developed.  The folklore surrounding the bird is quite extensive; perhaps the best known tale is that of a robin picking thorns out of Christ's forehead when he was on his way to be crucified.  It is generally depicted as being very kind, as demonstrated in the stories about how it got its red breast.  One belief was that the robin singed himself whilst taking water to sinners in hell, and another that he was fanning the fire to keep the baby Jesus warm.  It was also said that if the bird found a dead person, he would cover them up with leaves, moss and flowers.  They are strongly associated with Christmas, porbably because their lovely colour stands out so well, and corresponds to the 'red and green' theme favoured at that time of year.

Listen to the song 'Little Robin Redbreast'.