Feast of San Martino in Venice, history and tradition on 11 November

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Aina Prat Blasi

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Like every year, the11 November a Venezia it is celebrated in a very choreographic and heartfelt way feast of San Martino.

Children, on that date, become the protagonists of the streets: they wear long cloaks and swords, take ladles, lids and pots (which often attach to the neck) and beat to attract the attention of passers-by or people locked in the house, in the hope of having some money to be able to buy the desired sweets.

They often accompany the whole thing with songs and nursery rhymes, sometimes very simple, others more complex but always in Venetian dialect: famous is the one that says "Oh what odori de pignata, se magnè bon pro ve fazza, se ne del bon vin, we will sing San Martin" (Oh what smells of food, if you are eating it is good for you, if you give us good wine, we will sing San Martino).

But why this custom? There legend tells of a saint, Martino, who, meeting a poor, cold old man but unable to help him with money, he drew his sword, cut his cloak in two pieces and gave half to that old man. Shortly thereafter, the weather warmed and a radiant sun rose from the clouds. Hence the famous saying "Indian summer”, As the beautiful days of November are still defined today.

On the occasion of the holiday, all the pastry shops in Venice prepare the famous sweet of San Martino, a joy for the eyes and the palate: it has the shape of saint on horseback with cloak and sword and is made with a shortcrust pastry decorated with sugar glaze and pralines.

In this period it can be found San Martino mold in all household goods stores in Venice. It may also be interesting to combine a visit to the city in celebration with the Biennale of Art or Architecture which, every year, opens a window on the state of the art of world culture.

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