The Three Days of the Blackbird

WHY is it that February should be the only month to have 28 days?
HOW can anyone be sure that blackbirds were never at one time the color of white?
And WHAT is the legend of I tre giorni della merla?? (post title)

Three seemingly unrelated questions to ponder. And one tale to explain them all. Ask someone from Lombardy about the story of i Giorni della Merla, or the Blackbird Days, and he will share with you a legend with roots that run deeper than Lake Como itself. My husband has listened to it. His father has told it. And so it continues to travel down through generations.

Variations to this story run from countryside to countryside, yet the one thing they all have in common is such that the last 3 days of January are the coldest of the season. Both masculine and femine forms of the italian word for blackbird. Sharing the legend keeps tradition from becoming forgotten.

I Giorni della Merla

A long time ago it used to be that there were only 28 days to the month of January. A time when the merla was the color of white, white as the clouds in the sky, pure as the virgin snow. The merlo and his family lived among the trees, in a nest made of grass and twigs, and every winter the family of white birds waited for the cold days to come to an end.

It was never easy in the cold season, they survived on small insects and seeds that lay hidden under the ground. Then it happened, one January, on the 28th day, that the weary merlo rejoiced and shouted to the heavens, “Più non ti curo Domine, che uscito son dal verno!
[Lord, I don’t care about you anymore, winter is over!]

January, greatly enraged by this disrespectful outburst, asked his brother February to lend him three of his days. He turned the 29th, 30th, and 31st into the harshest of all the month, and the merlo, filled with worry and fear, moved his family away from the trees, away to a stone chimney on the top of an old farmhouse.

For three days they huddled next to the chimney top. Three days of horrendous ice and cold. And when the first day of February appeared in a hopeful ray of sunshine, the merlo and his family emerged to find themselves no longer white, but transformed to the color of night by the smoke and soot of the chimney. From that day on, the merlo was always born black. And that is how February came to have 28 days instead of 31.

Blackbird clipart courtesy FCIT @

3 thoughts on “The Three Days of the Blackbird

  1. Pingback: All masked up and ready to….. | Rubber Slippers In Italy

  2. Pingback: Falò della Gibiana | Rubber Slippers In Italy

  3. Pingback: Giorni della merla is right on target | Rubber Slippers In Italy

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