The Christmas Custom of Dead Bird Postcards

Back in the 19th century, people often sent each other postcards of dead birds during the Christmas season. Collectors Weekly explains:

"The Victorians had some really strange ideas about what served as an appropriate Christmas greeting," says Bo Wreden, who recently organized an exhibition of holiday cards for the Book Club of California. "They liked to send out cards with dead birds on them, robins in particular, which related to ancient customs and legends. There's a famous quotation from the Venerable Bede about a sparrow flying through the hall of a castle while the nobility is celebrating Christmas: The moment from when it enters until it flies out is very brief, a metaphor for how quickly our lives pass." Apparently, killing a wren or robin was once a good-luck ritual performed in late December, and during the late 19th century, cards featuring the bodies of these birds were sent to offer good luck in the New Year.

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     Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 05, 2022
     Category: Customs | Death | Christmas

Strange indeed. I once heard that these cards were rooted in a European tradition that funding a dead bird was a sign of good luck, and a sign of a good year to come if you found one in December or January.
Posted by Brian on 12/05/22 at 07:46 AM
If I found a dead bird in my house, I would rather consider it bad luck. Especially if it's a canary.
Posted by Yudith on 12/05/22 at 05:56 PM
Following a link on, there's this:
Posted by ges on 12/06/22 at 08:31 AM
@Brian: not European. Maybe specifically English, but not generally European. I can't imagine a Dutchman, Czech or Italian sending one of these.
Posted by Richard Bos on 12/10/22 at 10:03 AM
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