Traditions of Feeding the Birds at Christmas Time

Photo of a Yellow Breasted Chat by Robin Zurovek

Birds are considered to be among the most common Christmas tree ornaments. They have religious symbolism as being biblical messengers that bring love and peace to the world. Even today, birds represent good luck and good fortune.

It is said that many German families felt that finding a bird’s nest in the Christmas tree meant the gift of health, wealth and happiness throughout the year. And in southern Germany corn is placed on the roof to feed the birds on Christmas Eve.

In Denmark, the father of the household erects a “juleneg” on Christmas Eve. This is a corn stalk hung in a tree, just to let the birds know that Christmas has arrived.

Feeding bread crumbs, seeds, or a sheaf of grain to the birds on is also a Swedish tradition. The last sheaf of grain from the harvest, known as the Julkarve or the Christmas sheaf is hung out for the birds on Christmas Eve.

According to legend if lots of birds come, a good crop will follow the next year. The very act of giving to the birds signifies a reminder that no matter how lean the times, when people share, good fortune will follow.

If you would like to join the time honored tradition of feeding birds this time of year, you can fill your feeders or make edible ornaments to hang from the trees. Then as you enjoy your traditional Christmas meal inside, you can watch the birds and squirrels enjoy their meal outside the window.

Merry Christmas!


Do it yourself birdseed heart


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