From its encounter with Jesus in the Christian tradition to its unmistakable joyous song. Let’s find out more about the secrets of a much-loved Traditional tattoo…

For the Norsmen, the Robin (scientific name: Erithacus rubecula) was the symbol of Thor, a divinity with close associations with clouds and storms. For the Celts, it was a harbinger of the new year and the bitter rival of the Wren, the bird which symbolised the old year drawing to a close.

Lainey Bee, Flowinkstudio, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Lainey Bee, Flowinkstudio, Nijmegen, Netherlands

There is an old English nursery rhyme – “Who killed Cock Robin” – which tells of the eternal struggle between the Wren (a common sparrow) who with the advent of March kills the robin with an arrow. With the death of the Robin, nature reawakens and at the same time the forest celebrates him with a solemn burial.

In Christian tradition, there is the legend which tells how the Robin owes his plumage to an encounter with Jesus Christ on the cross. The bird alights beside Jesus who has been crucified on Mount Golgotha and, tries to alleviate his suffering by freeing the Nazarene from the crown of thorns. In this brave gesture, the Robin stained his breast and since then, his characteristic colour stands for the generosity of such a tiny yet courageous creature.

Freulein Fux, Tattoo-Atelier Wald & Wiese, Arnstadt, Germany
Freulein Fux, Tattoo-Atelier Wald & Wiese, Arnstadt, Germany

Popular traditions has it that the theft of a Robin’s egg is an omen of misfortune on the way. Whoever sees the first Robin of the season is supposed to make a wish before it flies away. Iff you fail do do so, you will have bad luck for the rest of the year to come!

The song of the Robin is joyous, high-pitched and heart-warming and serves to mark territory. If two male birds find themselves in the same part of the wood, they will not fight but simply sing as loud as possible in order to stake their claim to that particular area. The Robin is therefore also a symbol of pacifism and resolution of conflict through the saving power of art.

Ant Cole, The Interbellum Tattoo Lounge, Billericay, UK
Ant Cole, The Interbellum Tattoo Lounge, Billericay, UK

Robin eggs are a delicate shade of blue and this colour is widely recognised as a means of activating the throat chakra which in turn, unleashes willpower and creativity. In this case, the Robin stands for that inner power which allows us to make new and important steps forward in our lives.

Dashuai Ma, Haloink, Beijing, China
Dashuai Ma, Haloink, Beijing, China

Both Robins, male and female, rear their chicks, feeding them with supreme dedication about every ten minutes. The need for this reserve of energy is due to the fact that the chicks hatch without any plumage and could easily die of cold. Despite this serious handicap, the Robin manages to hatch more than one brood a year and this is an indicator of its great vitality not to mention its enormous dedication in everything it does.

This is why it has always been seen as a symbol of hope, optimism, harmony and happiness.

Enjoy our gallery of tattoos in honour of the Robin!