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Saint Martin's Day in Venice

December 14th, 2019 by Prontopia

Have you ever heard of a Venetian Halloween? Well, you’ll be surprised to discover that Halloween in Venice exists. It shares some similarities to its American counterpart, while still being unique. Here’s how to celebrate it!

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Is It Really Halloween?

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Although it is not the American kind of Halloween, Venice has still developed its own Halloween tradition. 

The first thing that’s a little different in Venice than it is in the States is that Venice’s Halloween is on November 11, not October 31. November 11 is a day dedicated to Saint Martin, one of the most important figures of the Catholic religion. His history in Venice goes back to the VIII century when the church of Saint Martin was built in Castello. The church was most likely build by refugees from Ravenna, a city very devoted to the saint.

The tradition of Saint Martin’s Day is very old. It traces back to centuries ago, when people enjoyed seasonal products on November 11th to celebrate the arrival of autumn. 

Time passed and the celebration became more of a party for Venetian children who, like their English-speaking peers on Halloween, go around looking for treats.

How Do Children Trick Or Treat on Saint Martin?

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What you will see and hear in Venice on November 11th will be fun and VERY loud. That’s because of the way kids trick or treat during this day.

On Saint Martin’s Day, groups of Venetian children, usually led by an adult, go around the city wearing paper crowns on their heads. They make a lot of noise beating pots and pans with wooden spoons, singing a traditional child song in Venetian dialect…and how they love that! You will be able to spot them from afar.

However, what’s really peculiar about their trick and treat is that they don’t go door to door, but shop to shop counting on the generosity of the shopkeepers to offer candies or a little money.

It is fun to meet Kids On Saint Martin’s Day, usually at the local shop making their happy and giggling entrance.

The Special Treat Of The Celebration

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There is a special treat that you can try on this occasion: Saint Martin’s biscuits!

You will see the delicious ‘San Martino’ biscuits and cakes displayed in the windows of every pastry and bakery. You will find even fancier ones in the supermarket!

The biscuits are made of shortcrust pastry, covered in icing, chocolate, and sweets. They represent the story of Saint Martin’s miracle, in which the saint is on horseback offering to share his coat with a poor man.

The biscuits are easy to find around Venice, but if you want to order something special for the occasion, you should try to look at Rizzardini Pastry Shop. They have a long family history in pastry-making, and make some of the best sweets and cakes in Venice. Moreover, they take orders on Saint Martin’s day.

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A Conclusive Note

Though Saint Martin’s Day celebration sounds like a beautiful, cheerful event (and in many ways, it is), it also represents the housing crisis that is forcing Venetians to move away from the city center. It’s lovely to see children playing and singing Saint Martin’s songs, but it’s also clear that each year, there are fewer children and the tradition may soon disappear.

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©Photo Credits: Pumpkins (Photo by David Menidrey), Kid playing (Photo by Scott Webb), Saint Martin’s biscuit (Photo by Author), Bar Pasticceria Rizzardini (Photo by Author)


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