The Cardinal, a Holiday Standout
[Sigh] You know Winter is near when you can easily spot a cardinal on the leafless tree branches of November.
Did you know it’s common for people to find symbolism in different bird species? At Mr. Canary, we see it as another one of the many benefits of bird feeding.
People associate birds with a variety of things, which generally improves their mood. And no species receive more attention in this respect than the cardinal.
Around here, we don’t claim to be bird experts; we’re less about species/habitat and more about the extraordinary generational connections inherent in the activity. But given our Hoosier roots, the cardinal is a bird that’s exceptionally near and dear to us.
In addition to a cardinal being the State Bird of Indiana, ‘Charlie Cardinal’ is also the world-famous mascot of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. And that, coincidentally, happens to be the alma mater of our company’s CEO and COO…and David Letterman (whom we do NOT know but are fans of).
However, the thing that really got us wondering, “what the heck is UP with cardinals?!” is the fact that they also seem to be The Official Hallmark Holiday Bird. Is it just because of the cardinal’s festive red color, or is it something more calculated?
Well, it turns out, the cardinal is loaded with symbolic meaning, and a lot of it is biblical. Intentionally impartial to any specific religion, we looked for a more ‘technical’ justification of its popularity, and here’s what we learned.
The word “cardinal” comes from the Latin word “cardo,” which means “hinge.” So technically speaking, cardinal symbolism might refer to its role as the ‘hinge’ that joins heaven and earth. However, with no psychic medium credentials, we can’t authoritatively say it’s what seeing a cardinal means, or for that matter, if it means anything at all.
Using the hinge definition, though, seeing a cardinal could symbolize that loved ones who have passed are with us still, in spirit. In that way, seeing a cardinal might as well provide comfort and consolation at a time of year when it would be especially welcomed.
Additionally, unlike other species, cardinals do not migrate; when they make a home, it’s their home for life. And like cardinals, around the holidays, people are drawn home where so many family ties anchor us.
Maybe it’s fitting, then, that we associate cardinals with the holidays. These are the times where we miss those who aren’t with us and often retreat home where those people and special times feel closer, and treasured memories are vivid.
(Try fitting that explanation on a Hallmark card, and you won’t have to wonder a second longer why a festive red bird image gets the nod instead).
With Winter and the holiday season upon us, keep your eyes open for cardinals. If you or someone you know loves cardinals, know this: cardinals love Mr. Canary’s Bird & Breakfast bird feeder.
And by the way, cardinals also look great perched on our Bird & Breakfast. So, for an added bonus, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can take photos, make your own holiday cards and forget Hallmark altogether.
Whether dining at your Bird & Breakfast or on a Christmas card, wherEVER you see cardinals this holiday season, we hope the sighting fills you with comfort and joy.