Yesterday was April 25. All over Italy, this day commemorates Italy's liberation day following WWII. In Venice, there are additional reasons to celebrate--one, it's ST. Mark's festival, the holiday of the patron saint of Venice. And two, it's the Festival of the Blooming Rose. On the occassion of the Fest of the Patron Saint in Venice, men give the gift of the bocolo- the red rose bloom- to their beloved.
All over the city, you will see women carrying one single rose blossom, given to them by some man who loves them. What a great tradition! Men give them also to their mothers, not only to their inamorata.
There are several versions of how this tradition started, but the one I like most goes something like this:
There was a rose bed growing along side the grave of St. Mark the Evangelist. This rose bush was gifted to one of the two Venetian sailors, Basilio, who "stole" the remains of St. Mark and brought them from Turkey to the city of Venice. The rose bush was planted in Basilio's garden on Giudecca Island. On Basilio's death, his property was divided between his two sons,and the rose bush fell on the borderline of the two divisions. These two factions of the family became rivals, and it is said the rose bush stopped blooming as a result of the bad blood between the two brothers.
Many years later, on April 25, a love sparked between a girl on one side of the family with a boy on the other side. It's said that the two fell in love watching each other through the leaves of the rose bush on the edge of the properties. This love caused the rose bush to blossom again, and the young man gave a rose blossom to the young woman. This love brought the two sides of the family back together again.
In memory of this love story, Venetian men give a rose blossom- the bocolo- to their beloved on April 25 every year. I love this story!!!! Ok, I'm a sucker for a romance, what can I say?
It's very interesting also to me that Hallmark cards don't exist here, but the florists do a huge business.