The Everyday Lore Project

4 October 2020 – St Francis’ Day

4 October 2020 – St Francis’ Day

I’ve been torturing the cat today with Eurasian great tits (not a euphemism). It’s St Francis’ Day, and while the saint of Assisi was a keen levitator, he is probably best known for being his generation’s Doctor Dolittle.

4 October is a very birdy day, not just because St Francis is famous for preaching to a flock of birds, it also marks the traditional start of the annual swallow migration. But because of the crappy weather, I didn’t see any swallows, nor did I hear any either. I tried to keep an ear out, but the torrential rain put paid to almost all back garden conversation.

Except for one bird. The chip chip oyee. I have no idea what this bird is. Admittedly, the only birds I can actually identify with any confidence by their calls are magpies, woodpigeons, cuckoos, and seagulls, but this one really didn’t sound familiar. So I did my due diligence and ploughed my way through identification sites and put out a tweet, but couldn’t find anything that sounded like chip chip oyee. 

So all birds considered, today was a bit of a wash out. Except for the torture. That was hilarious. It’s said that St Francis is quoted as saying:

A cat purring on your lap is more healing than any drug in the world, as the vibrations you are receiving are of pure love and contentment.

But I’d be more inclined to go with:

A cat going batshit insane over an invisible bird is a sure fire way to a happier heart. 


Header: © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / CC BY-SA (

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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