Today is the Festa di San Martino - St. Martin's Day. In Venice this festa is a big, big deal, and over the years it has become one of my favorite celebrations every November. I am very fortunate that I live not far from Campo San Martino and the Chiesa di San Martino, and get a constant reminder of this saint whenever I'm passing by.
St. Martin's story goes something like this: 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 favorite saint and traditionally the day when the novello [new] wine is opened.
|San Martino bas relief on the wall of the Church of San Martino, Castello|
Every November 11 the children of Venice re-enact St. Martin by dressing up in red cloaks and "Burger King" style crowns, banging on their mother's pots and pans while parading through their neighborhoods. Stops are made at the local shops canvassing for goodies. Sort of like Halloween but everyone dresses the same.
San Martino cookies line the windows of every bakery in town starting a couple of weeks before the holiday. How could you not love San Martino day, when you knew there would be some fabulous cookie waiting for you at home?
Have you picked the one going home with you this year?
I noticed my local hardware store was selling cookie molds for every size San Martino day horse cookie you could imagine, from a grand one over a foot tall to very tiny individual ones. Perfect if you love making cookies.
Should you find yourself in the neighborhood of Campo San Martino this weekend, here's the list of activities going on during the festa. Tomorrow between 4pm-8:30 there will be food and wine served in the campo. Look for me there!
Happy Festa de San Martino!