St.Mark’s Day and Bocolo Fest in Venice: celebrating 25th April in Venice
April 25th in Venice is not only the anniversary of the Liberation but it’s also the anniversary of the death of Saint Mark, their patron saint, whose symbol of a winged lion you see all over the city.
April 25th in Venice is not only the day when the anniversary of the Liberation – the end of Second World War – is celebrated. For Venetians, it’s also the anniversary of the death of Saint Mark, their patron saint, whose symbol of a winged lion you see all over the city.
St.Mark’s Feast is a celebration full of atmospheres and suggestions linked to myth, romance and religion. Every year locals hold a big event to commemorate this anniversary. Saint Mark’s Basilica holds a mass in the morning, and throughout the day there is music, dancing, markets, concerts, and carnivals. A fascinating mix of emotions with legendary stories, faith and a rosebud.
Two love stories, two different finales.
The origins of the Festa di San Marco are linked to two love stories.
The first story has as its protagonist a maiden named Maria, called Vulcana by her enchanting eyes, daughter of the Doge Orso Partecipazio. The girl fell madly in love with a guy named Tancredi but the love between the two was hindered because of the humble origins of the boy. So Tancredi decided to leave for the war, aiming to stand out as a soldier and return to Venice as a hero.
Despite the valiant exploits, however, the young Tancredi died fighting against the Moors of Spain: he was wounded in a rose garden, dyeing with his blood a rosebud. Orlando, a faithful friend of Tancredi, brought the rosebud to Vulcana as a pledge of love from her deceased lover.
On April 25th the beautiful Mary was found dead in her bed with the rosebud resting on her heart.
There is also another tradition linked to the Boccolo festival: it is the story of two lovers who have long been divided by a rose garden without flowers, which miraculously began to bloom on 25th April, the day when the love between the two young men blossomed. According to legend, the two lovers belonged to two enemy branches of the same family and only when the lover donated a rosebud to his beloved restored peace between the two families.
Whether it’s a tragedy or a story with a happy ending, both these stories have consolidated the tradition according to which the Venetian citizens are used to donate rosebuds – “bocolo” – to their women on April 25th.
San Marco and Venice: the story of an unbreakable bond
April 25th is also the day on which Saint Mark – evangelist and protector of the city of Venice – is celebrated.
Saint Mark was a disciple of Paul and Peter and is considered the author of the Gospel according to Mark. Many Christian Churches venerate him as a saint, in addition to the Catholic Church. Among these, the Orthodox and the Coptic Church, which considers him patriarch and first bishop of Alexandria.
The events that link San Marco to Venice are rather adventurous: in fact, his remains were stolen by two Venetian merchants in the year 828 and were transported in Venice hidden in a basket of vegetables and meat pork. The choice of meat pork was not random, because the merchants knew that in this way they would have passed off over the customs controls of Muslim soldiers.
After a few years work began on the construction of the Basilica of San Marco, which still today houses its relics. San Marco was considered the one who had evangelized the Venetian territory; legend has it that one day, an angel assumed the shape of a winged lion appeared to Marco announcing that his remains would have rested in the Venetian lagoon.
For this reason the winged lion has become the symbol of Venice – it is also called the lion of San Marco. The lion is depicted with a book on which is written in Old Latin “Peace is with you, Mark, my evangelist“. The Lion has thus become the symbol of the Venetians and of all the cities under Venetian domination.