St. Martin’s Day in Venice

Ancient Feasts and Traditions Kids! In case you come to visit us on November 11th, maybe just because your parents have decided to join one of our guided tours in Venice, do not forget to bring along a wooden scoop and a pan! And also a cloak and a paper crown, if you can!
Obviously, because it’s time to have fun!
It is Saint Martin’s Day!

Saint Martin’s Story

The legend has it that Martin, a French knight, was a kind and good hearted man. One day, in Fall, riding around on horseback, he noticed a poor old man who was almost naked and so very cold. The knight did not hesitate: with his sword he cut his expensive warm cloak and gave a piece of it to the old peasant.

Bas-relief on the façade of St. Martin’s oratory in Venice

And in that very moment the sun became much warmer, the temperature raised, as if it was summer again… and this “miracle” would repeat every year more or less on the same days. Since then, the short period before and after the date dedicated to this Saint has become known as “St. Martin’s summer”.

Saint Martin in Venice

In Venice a church dedicated to St. Martin appeared very early, around the 8th century, or maybe even earlier! This Saint has always been quite important to the Venetians. For centuries, St. Martin’s church would be the final destination of a solemn procession that would start at Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, a building located in the opposite side of the city.

St. Martin’s Church

This church is located close to the Arsenale, i.e. the Venetian Shipyard, an area so full of history, art, traditions and legends. It is really worth it to visit this place, even better with a local guide.

St. Martin’s Feast

On November 11th, in the afternoon, all Venetian children run around in small groups, hitting their pans with their wooden spoons and singing a traditional rhyme in Venetian:

San Martin xe ‘nda in sofita
A trovar ea so’ novissa
So’ novissa no ghe gera
San Martin col cùeo par tera
E col nostro sachetin
Cari siori xe San Martin!

St. Martin walked up to the attic
To see his girlfriend
His girlfriend wasn’t there
St. Martin fell with his bottom to the ground
We hold our little sweet bag
And wish you “Happy St. Martin’s Day”!

Children carry along a little sweet bag and roam the shops in search for candies and sweets.

Credits: Francesca Ranieri

Pastry and sweet shops are the best places to visit for the purpose, obviously, but all shopkeepers make sure to have a good supply of sweets and chocolates for the kids.
What a noise all around! And how much fun for everybody, both children and grownups! Everyone is happy!

St. Martin’s Cookie

Every important date or feast is celebrated in Venice with a proper traditional cake, pastry or sweet.
On St. Martin’s Day we must have the special cookie that represents St. Martin on horseback holding his sword. It is a shortbread cookie, large or small, covered with frosting, or chocolate, full of colorful candies.

St. Martin’s Cookie

You can find it in a lot of shops, but you can also bake your own! It is really easy!
Prepare some shortbread dough and cut it in the form of St. Martin on horseback with his sword. There are proper cookie cutters for the purpose, or you can simply cut the figure on baking paper, place it on top of your dough and cut the dough following the outlines of the figure.

Home made St. Martin’s cookies for the whole family

Mini home made St. Martin’s cookie

Bake it and finally decorate it as you like. Keep in mind that it has be full of colors!
And have a Happy St. Martin’s Day!

We will be waiting for you to take you on a guided tour in Venice: we will tell you more stories, legends, traditions of our wonderful city. And don’t forget to bring your parents with you! Ciao!