You really have to pay attention in Italy with all the holidays, festivals and traditions. Although Italy is a Catholic country, home to the Pope, many of the Catholic holidays took over Pagan holidays.
At the end of January, are the “Days of the Blackbird”. Based on the weather during these three days, it let’s you know how the rest of winter will be. This year it was mild and we had light rain, but in the past, it has snowed or there has been flooding.
The story goes, that originally, the mail blackbird was brown and the female white. It was freezing cold and to save their babies, they made the nests in a chimney and the ash coming out turned the female brown.
In the old calendar, January had 29 days, so the three days to control the weather were January 28,29 and February 1. In the USA, we have a similar event, Ground Hog’s day, which lets us know how much longer winter will last.
In Tuscany we have a manual to guide farmers based on the phases of the moon, on when to plant, etc. Sesto Cajo Bacelli was a “stologo” ( astrologer) from a small village outside of Florence, Brozzi. You can pick up this tiny book at news stands in Tuscany.
Right after the Giorni della Merla is another celebration the Candelora. The Catholic celebration was based on 40 days after the birth of Christ, being presented at the Temple. The “other” celebration is celebrating going from the dark of winter into the light of spring. Candelora is celebrated with candles.
Se la vien con sol e bora
If it comes with sun and northern winds
de l’inverno semo fora.
we are coming out of Winter
Se la vien con piova e vento
If it comes with rain and wind
de l’inverno semo drento.
We are still in Winter.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Carnevale, but that deserves it’s own post.