Why Are There Dead Birds on Victorian Christmas Cards?

Oddly enough, Victorian Christmas cards could be quite creepy, with their murderous frogs and mobs of torch-wielding birds. However, one repeating image is especially strange: the dead bird. To understand why you might send a friend or family member this morbid missive, we must mentally journey back to the 19th century, and no….it wasn’t madness from the arsenic-laced wallpaper or tightly-cinched corsets. Killing a wren or robin was once a good luck ritual performed in late December. In fact, December 26th is known as “Wren Day,” with a traditional hunt of the bird. So, receiving a card with the little prone bird, feet curled in rigor mortis, could be meant to wish nothing more than good cheer for the new year.