We started seeing horse cookies in the windows of all the bakeries here a few days before November 11th, which is San Martino day. We knew very little about what the day was all about, so I had to go look it up. Here's what I found......
In the 4th century, Saint Martin met a starving, freezing beggar at the gates of the city of Amiens. He cut his cloak in two with his sword and gave half to the man. For that reason, Martin is a saint associated with the poor. It is also said that at the moment he tore his cloak, the sun came out and that is why an Indian summer here is known as an estate di san Martino.The 11th November is the festa of this favourite saint and traditionally the day when the novello [new] wine is opened.
Here in Venice, on San Martino day, we saw children parading in the streets in small groups with their parents. They all had red capes on, and wore paper crowns. It looked like they had some art project in school that day to make their crowns. All the children carried pots, pans and wooden spoons, and as they went along they banged on the pots and all sang a song. Our favorite was a little boy who had the lids of two pots he was using as cymbals! The children stop in at all the shops to collect candies- a little like Halloween in the U.S.
Here's a group of red caped crusaders stopping in at Tonolo- a local bakery near Campo San Pantalon:
This cookie is about 2 feet tall.. WOW!!!