Folk tale: the “giorni della merla”

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In Italy, the last days of January are called “Giorni della merla”, the “hen blackbird days”.⁣


A folk tale tells that in ancient times blackbirds were white. In a cold winter, there was a family of blackbirds hidden from the icy weather in their nest.

At the end of the month, the hen blackbird jumped out and started to mock January saying that he couldn’t hurt them anymore with his freezing days. January, resentful, asked February to give him three days and started a blizzard for revenge.


The poor birds went to a chimney stack to get warm during these three cold days. They managed to survive, but the soot of the chimney turned them black.

So, that’s why the blackbird has this dark plumage, February has 28 days, and the last days of January are the coldest of the year.⁣