29th, 30th and 31st January: The “days of the blackbird”

The days of the blackbird represent a true Italian tradition and, according to popular knowledge, go from 29th  to 31st January. In some regions they are called “lending days”, in others they are celebrated with folk songs and choirs, in others they are called “of the blackbird” without people knowing the real reason.

The reason behind this bizarre nickname lies in some legends that have been handed down from father to son practically from the dawn of time and believe these 3 days to be the coldest of the year. In fact, meteorologists and statistics are clear and point out that often this is not the case: but tradition and legends are hard to die, especially when they are soa welcomed by adults and children, who have fun waiting for the pungent frost.

Winter is the hardest season of the year and, according to popular tradition of the various Italian regions, it reaches its peak between the end of January and the beginning of February, during what are dubbed “days of the blackbird “. From then on, the days begin to become increasingly longer and the climate slowly becomes milder. But what are the traditions related to this annual anniversary?

The last days of January

As just said, the days of the blackbird are those that go from 29th  to 31st  January. But why just “of the blackbird”? According to the stories that revolve around this bizarre name, a blackbird and its young, with a black and brilliant plumage, were forced to take refuge inside a chimney because of the great cold, and then came out into the open after a few days all grey and sooty.

However, it is simply a story, as the blackbird males differ from females precisely for a plumage of different colors: greyish for the former, intense black for the latter.

The days of the blackbird in Italy: between traditions and parties

In Sardinia the days of the blackbird are particularly felt: according to some information that revolves around a very specific story, linked to these three days, the elders of the place would be able to establish how the crops would grow and what the climate would be during the rest of the year. Obviously there is no scientific basis to prove the truthfulness of the stories and the forecasts that derive from it, but surely the passing down of these stories is one of the most noteworthy Italian traditions.

In short, according to legend, a Sheppard dared to mock a particularly mild January. January thought, “Now I’ll show you!” But at that time it lasted only 29 days, and having come to an end it could not take revenge on the shepherd. So it went to February and asked it for 2 days on loan. February consented and since then began to last only 28 days (while January lasts 31). Tradition has it that if the days of the blackbird are particularly cold, then spring will come sooner and it will be mild.

The days of the blackbird: Lodi e Cremona

The days of the blackbird are celebrated in many Italian regions and towns, but for reasons of tradition some places are more linked than others to this “anniversary”. This is the case of the provinces of Lodi and Cremona and of Sardinia as a whole. In Lodi, the coldest days of the year are celebrated with choirs and songs dedicated to the blackbird, which are sung by young and old alike.

A similar situation in Cremona, where however the days considered “of the blackbird” are the 30th and 31st January and the 1st February, due to a legend linked to a particularly mild January.

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