According to tradition “I giorni della merla- the days of the blackbird” are the coldest in Italy and they are the 29th, 30th and 31st of January – although some say they include 1st of February too. How they became known as the ‘days of the blackbird’ is unknown. One hypothesis is they got their name from a legend that tells the story of a female blackbird. One bitterly cold, snowy day at the end of January, the blackbird was looking for shelter for herself and her white chicks. The mother found a chimneystack, where she and her young took refuge inside from the cold and winds. When they emerged three days later, the birds were covered in soot and henceforth, all blackbirds were black.
Blackbirds do appear as if they have been nestling in soot: the female common blackbird is a sooty brown in colour and the male is black, while chicks sport plumage in varying shades of brown and when very young have speckled breasts.
It seems that if the days of the blackbird are cold then a fine spring is ahead, but if they are warm then spring will arrive late. On a chilly day like today, it looks as if a fine spring is ahead, but we better wait and see what “I giorni della merla” bring! Let’s hope for the best..