11 November 2007

San Martino, November 11

Venetian tykes don’t do much in the way of Hallowe’en celebration, but today they have a holiday honoring San Martino and they get to kick up their heels a little bit for that. I’m told they make a lot of racket (what else is new?) and go from house to house, playing pranks, teasing the neighbors, and begging for sweets. Sounds like trick-or-treat to me!

Myself, I can’t quite make the connection here – the same way some people don’t understand why the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated with jellybeans and bright yellow marshmallow chickens.

From what I gather, this San Martino fellow was a nobleman and sort of a Good King Wenceslas type. Among his other benevolent deeds, he gave his own cloak to warm a poor man on a cold winter’s night. He is depicted on horseback, brandishing his sword and wearing that same cloak. And today he is honored in sugar form.

Lately every grocery, bakery, and sweet shop in town has been offering cookies like this one, in every size from mini to gigantic. Sugar icing and candy decorations range from the simple and beautiful to the delightfully garish, and prices go as high as 75 euros (nearly $150.00!) for a very large, elegant, chocolate-covered version at Rosa Salva, Venice’s best-loved cake shop.

Of course, I have to try making one for myself tonight. I’ll let you know how it turns out. At worst, I will have a big, sticky cookie to eat. Happy San Martino Day!