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The First Christmas Robin

by Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To retell a Christmas legend to highlight the importance of practical help.

Preparation and materials

  • Find an image of a Christmas robin and have the means to display it during the assembly (check copyright).
  • You could wear some red clothing, but this is optional.
  • You can simply read the story or it could be presented by a group of children.
  • Note: It is important to point out to the children that they should never light fires, especially not in a stable.
  • Either have available the song ‘When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin along’ and the means to play it at the end of the assembly to sing along to or choose one of the other options given in the ‘Songs’ section.


  1. Introduce the theme by asking whether anyone has received or sent a Christmas card with a robin on it. Refer to the cards and decorations we have at Christmas and comment that robins make a bright and cheerful contribution to our Christmas celebrations.

  2. Explain that robins first found their way on to Christmas cards because Victorian postmen wore bright red uniforms and were nicknamed ‘robins’. So, instead of showing postmen delivering the Christmas mail, card designers showed robins carrying envelopes in their beaks and with bags of letters around their necks!

  3. Mention, too, that other Christmas legends tell how the robin got such beautiful red feathers and you are now going to tell them one of these, called ‘The first Christmas robin’.

    The first Christmas robin

    When Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, there was nowhere for them to stay, so Jesus was born in a stable.

    Stables are cold and draughty places, so Joseph carefully lit a small fire to keep Mary and her baby warm. Jesus slept safely in the manger, warmed by the fire, but, as the night grew darker and darker, the stable became colder and colder and the flames of the fire flickered lower and lower. Soon, all that was left of the fire was a dull glow.

    Perhaps the little brown bird was cold or maybe it understood what was happening and wanted to help. Mary heard it flutter down on to the floor. Settling close to ashes, the little brown bird flapped its wings to fan the embers.  

    Suddenly, the fire burst back into life. Mary smiled, but then, to her sorrow, she saw that the heat of the flames had singed the brown feathers on the little bird’s chest and they had turned bright red. ‘Thank you, little bird,’ she said. ‘May God forever bless you!’ 

    So, as a reward for its kindness, the robin has kept its beautiful red feathers and it still brings warmth and cheerfulness to many people at Christmastime!

  4. Reflect that this legend celebrates the importance of helping others at Christmas. Invite the children to suggest ways in which they share cheerfulness with others, such as visiting older family members, singing carols at a local shopping centre, performing in a Christmas play, helping to tidy and decorate their homes, delivering Christmas cards to friends, supporting the work of a charity  . . .  Helpfulness and kindness can brighten the season – just like the robin!

Time for reflection

Be thankful for someone who has helped you this week. How might you cheer someone up today?

Lord God,
Thank you for bright winter robins, warmth and cheerfulness.


‘When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin along’
‘Christmas time is here’ (Come and Praise, 127)
‘Merry Christmas everyone’ (Songs for Every Season,Out of the Ark Music, 1997)

Publication date: December 2014   (Vol.16 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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