I buried this wren the day after Christmas. Poor little thing got stuck in my parents’ garage on Christmas Eve, refused to leave, and was unfortunately found the next morning, having passed away. Once my dad discovered the body, I volunteered to give it a proper burial in the Earth.
Soon after our discovery, I randomly came across a post on Instagram from @talkdeathdaily about how in the Victorian Era, folks sent holiday cards with photos of dead wrens and robins on them… it was a sort of symbolism for “out with the old, in with the new” from what I gathered.
I found this super interesting and coincidental, so I decided to do a little extra research, as I felt it might mean something.
Sure enough, I discovered that the ancient Celts actually sacrificed, and buried wrens as a part of their Winter Solstice celebrations. Any other time it was considered bad luck to kill a wren, but toward the end of December, it was seen as a way to ensure good luck for the coming year.
Before the burial, young boys would hunt the birds and place them atop a pole adorned with holly, then parade them around town, house to house. It was a ritual to ensure the return of light and fertility to the earth. This tradition eventually turned into Wren Day, or St. Stephen’s Day on December 26th in Ireland. In some places across the world, this celebration continues, just with a fake bird and no actual killing!
So here’s to hoping my little post-Christmas burial ensured the return of light and a little luck for myself and my family! At the very least, it definitely further connected me to my ancestors’ traditions and Irish roots!
For more information and further reading on the symbolism of the wren and Wren Day check out the following links: