The first month of the calendar is drawing to a close. And the days of the blackbird, traditionally known as the coldest of the year, are now upon us.
The 29th, 30th and 31st of January have always been associated with this bird with dark plumage, which spends the entire chill season in Italy without migrating. And which we often encounter in the garden while pecking at the lawn in search of earthworms.
There are many legends, similar or completely different, that lie behind the origin of the expression “days of the blackbird”. And, of all of them, we like to remember that one our grandparents used to tell us when we were children.
For them, who were farmers, the days of the blackbird were an important time. Even though spring was still a long way off, the end of January marked the transition to higher temperatures and the “awakening” of the land.
The origin of the legend
It is said – this is how our grandparents would start on the sofa, after a card game – that once upon a time January was envious of a Blackbird, admired for its beautiful yellow beak and snow-white feathers. So he amused himself by tormenting her, sending frost and storms to the earth as soon as she left the nest.
Tired of being harassed, the Blackbird became cunning and for twenty-eight days (this was the length of January at the time, according to the legend) she did not need to go out, thanks to the abundant supplies she had put aside.
But, on the last day of the month, the Blackbird made a mistake that sealed the fate of his species. Thinking she had tricked him, she flew out of the nest and began to provoke January, telling him that he had failed to freeze her beak even once that year.
January got so angry that he went to his brother February, who had thirty-one days, and asked to borrow three. In this way, he could take his revenge on the impertinent Blackbird by carrying out a diabolical plan.
Shortly afterward, January returned to earth and unleashed a terrible blizzard that lasted for all three days. And the Blackbird, who had gone out to look for food, was forced to take shelter in a chimney because of the strong wind.
When the bad weather was over, she emerged from the chimney safe and sound, but her white feathers had become completely black because of soot. Since then January has thirty-one days and the blackbirds are brown.
The days of the blackbird today
Perhaps the story of the days of the blackbird originated at a time when temperatures at the end of January were very low. However, scientific data from recent decades, although there are a few exceptions, belie this trend.
If we look at the data collected by Centro Geofisico Prealpino since 1967, we find that the 29th, 30th and 31st of January are generally warmer than the monthly average.
In any case, since every year is different, we are eagerly awaiting the days of the blackbird to see what the weather will be like. And let’s hope they are cold, just as the legend goes, because then spring – always according to our grandparents – would be mild.
Here in Poggio al Bosco, if the temperatures are cold, we would be happy to warm up with a glass of Solstizio, pure Cabernet Sauvignon, the perfect wine for the winter season.