Days of the Merla or how the whitebird became black

The last few days in January are called the days of the Merlo or Blackbird. According to legend the blackbird  was originally white but when the cold weather arrived at the end of January the whitebird and family decided to take up residence in a chimney until the cold weather passed. After 3 days things improved but when they came out of the chimney they were covered with soot and they have remained (at least the males) black ever since.

This year the Days of the Merla have begun in February with the snow. Here in san Giorgio they haven’t seen snow like it since 1985. One of the good things about snow is that people talk about it and we have discovered a local saying:

“Sotto la neve pane, sotto la pioggia fame”  Under the snow bread, under the rain hunger”

Having snow in winter means that insects and diseases that damage the plants are killed and so a good harvest can be expected. However, if it only rains in winter the insects and diseases can survive to damage the plants and bring a poor harvest.

One other local saying, which has nothing to do with the snow, is:  “Meglio un morto in casa che un Marchigiano alla porta” i.e. better a death in the family than a Marchigiano (native of the Marche) at the door. This saying goes back to the days when the Marche was part of the Papal States and many people from the Marche found work as tax collectors, never the most popular of people.

2 Responses to “Days of the Merla or how the whitebird became black”

  1. daniela says:

    “Sotto la neve pane, sotto la pioggia fame” – so true! We have something like that: If it rains in may we have corn/bread in september”

  2. Mike says:

    I knew there was something wrong with all our neighbors.

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