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Gregorjevo je tudi dan, ko se ptički ženijo. Na fotografiji je rumena pastirica. Foto: Vanesa Bezlaj
Gregorjevo je tudi dan, ko se ptički ženijo. Na fotografiji je rumena pastirica. Foto: Vanesa Bezlaj

Birds on Gregory’s Day: this is my tree and this is my girl

You certainly know Slovenian Valentine’s Day or St. Gregory’s Day. We celebrate it on March 12, the feast of St. Gregory. This is the day the birds get married.

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The holiday dates back to pre-Christian times.

Blacksmiths, shoemakers, and other artisans stopped working by candlelight and kerosene lamps that day. They celebrated the arrival of spring as the day lengthened.

To this day, quite a few old customs have been preserved.

Children sometimes thought that the birds were also feasting on this day. They searched the trees and bushes for cakes that their parents had secretly placed there to cheer them up.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

One of the most famous customs that has survived in Gorenjska is the lowering of lights.

On the eve of St. Gregory’s Day, people place candles on gregorčki and put them in the water.

Prosnik. Foto: Vanesa Bezlaj
Saxicola rubicol. Photo: Vanesa Bezlaj

Plants and animals also respond to the longer days.

The birds recognise that the day has lengthened because light and higher temperatures affect their hormones. The male songbirds thus begin to sing happily.

People have always loved birds singing. Some famous composers have depicted him in their compositions.

However, birds do not sing because of the beauty of their songs. Their singing has a specific purpose. Males attract a mate with it, while at the same time defending their territory.

They tell their peers, »This is my tree, and this is my girl!«

Most songbirds sing early in the morning and late in the evening.

Some can also be heard at night. At that time, nightingales, who are considered to be one of the best singers, sing.

Woodpeckers are also announced, marking their territory by pecking on trees.

Veliki detel. Foto: Vanesa Bezlaj
Dendrocopos major. Photo: Vanesa Bezlaj

Such behaviour can be observed only in the spring.

Later, the birds become quieter as they begin to nest.

They are less attentive while singing, and can quickly attract predators.

Glossary

Gregorčki are boats that we can make ourselves.

Points To Consider

  1. Do you celebrate St. Gregory’s Day?
  2. Which songbirds do you know?
  3. Do you ever wake up to birds singing?

***

The original version of this article was published on March 11th.

English translation courtesy of JL FlannerTotal Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.

Vanesa

Bezlaj je študentka novinarstva. Prosti čas preživlja v naravi, kjer zelo rada opazuje in fotografira ptice. Rada tudi potuje, še posebej z letalom.

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Ljubljana Slovenia
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