We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

San Martino Day

Tomorrow, November 11 is Festa di San Martino, a traditional Venetian festival, and one of my favorites. According to the legend, Saint Martin (before becoming a saint), helped a poor cold beggar by giving the beggar half of his cloak to keep him warm.  St. Martin is remembered for his kindnesses to the poor.  The half of the cloak retained by Saint Martin became a famous relic.
Across Europe you will find various ways St. Martin's day is celebrated, including eating goose,eating roasted chestnuts and also drinking new wine.

Here in Venice, it's remembered more with special sweets.  All the bakeries in town bake a very unique cookie just for this holiday, a cookie in the shape of a horse with St Martin on it's back. The horse is decorated with elaborate candies and chocolates all over it.

In addition, on November 11, children all over the city dress in a red capes and crowns, and travel in small groups through their communiites banging on pots and pans, singing a little tune about St. Martin. (wish I could sing it for you, but I can't. Sorry.) The children stop at local shops, where they receive candies and treats. Very similar to Halloween, actually.

Each year I look forward to seeing the arrival of the horse cookies in the shop windows of all the local bakeries. They can range in sized from small, just a few inches high, to huge, nearly 2 feet tall, each with incredibly fancy decorations of various colored icings and candies stuck to the cookie.  It's like having a Christmas stocking full of stuff all on just one cookie!

My sad San Martino day cookie did not make it home from the bakery intact this year.  Here it is-complete with broken legs and head! Still beautiful though.

Happy San Martino Day to all!

1 comment:

Dianne said...

I love the various feasts and festivals in Europe -- so many more and so much more colorful than in the USA. I remember fondly the festivals in Luxembourg. Wish I was there to eat a St. Martin cookie but at least I will be there for one of the Carnevale cookies this coming year.