Italian Language Blog

Gennaio Posted by on Jan 10, 2011 in Culture

Gennaio (January), the first month of the year, takes its name from Janus, the Roman god of gates and beginnings who is represented with two faces, one on the front and one on the back of his head.

Principali Festività (Main Festivals):

On the first of January we celebrate Capodanno (New Year’s Day).

On the sixth of January we celebrate l’Epifania (the Epiphany), which commemorates the arrival of i Tre Re Magi (the Three Wise Men) in Bethlehem, and this day marks the end of the festivals linked to Christmas. Before WWII and the new era of globalization, in which we adopted many traditions from America, Epifania was the day when Italian children received their presents from la Befana, an old woman dressed in rags. For more details see my article

Tradizioni (Traditions):

The last three days in January are traditionally said to be the coldest days of the year and are called i Tre Giorni della Merla (the Three Days of the Female Blackbird). I’m not exactly sure where this comes from, but from what I know there are several versions of a Lombardy legend that tells the story of the hardships suffered by a family of blackbirds during this harsh period of the winter. One of these stories recounts that once upon a time blackbirds were white. A family of blackbirds desperately seeking shelter from the cold took up residence in the roof of a house. Food being in extremely short supply, il merlo (the male blackbird) set off on an expedition for provisions. He was gone for three days, and when he returned his wife was nowhere to be seen. During his absence la merla (the female blackbird), seeking warmth, had huddled inside il comignolo (the chimneypot), and was covered in fuliggine (soot), becoming the very first black blackbird! The husband eventually recognized his wife e vissero per sempre felici e contenti! (and they lived happily ever after!)

Detti (sayings):

Se i giorni della Merla sono freddi la primavera sarà bella, se sono caldi la primavera arriverà in ritardo. If the days of the blackbird are cold spring will be good, if they are warm spring will arrive late.
Epifania tutte le feste si porta via Epiphany brings an end to all the festivities
Gennaio nevoso, anno prosperoso Snowy January, prosperous year ahead
Chi vuole un buon agliaio lo ponga di gennaio Who wants a good garlic bed should plant it in January
Per San Sebastiano mezz’ora in più abbiamo For San Sebastian (20th of January) we have half an hour (of light) longer
Per Sant’Agnese mezzo fieno e mezze spese For Saint Agnes’ (21st of January) half hay and half expenses (we are half way through the storing period)
Se per San Paolo è sereno, abbondanza avremo If for saint Paul’s (25th of January) the weather is good, we’ll have abundance
Se gennaio non fa i suoi fatti, febbraio farà cose da pazzi If January doesn’t do what it should, February will do mad things

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  1. Giulia:

    Very nice post, Serena! Love the “sayings” part!

    • Serena:

      @Giulia Salve Giulia, Wow, that’s the quickest response I’ve ever had to one of my blogs. I’ve only just finished publishing it!
      I’ll be doing a similar blog for each month of the year.

      Rimani sintonizzata, a presto, Serena

  2. Giulia:

    Twitter power 🙂

  3. Yulia:

    Serena, thank you very much for your post;) indeed, very interesting and very helpful as always;)))

  4. Jeannet Mulder:

    Salve Serena,

    Grazie mille per i blogi concernente l’Estività 2010-2011. Espero per tutti un felice e prospero nuovo anno 2011. L’epiphania: i tre re magi sono magici of come consideriamo ‘the three wise king from the East’?


  5. Carolina:

    Mi piacciono tanto i detti, Serena! Grazie!

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