St Martin's day in Venice

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St Martin's day in Venice

Did you know that the kids in Venice have been celebrating their own “Halloween” since the 16th century?! If you come to Venice on November 11th you might meet groups of children walking down the streets, sometimes accompanied by their parents or their teachers. They enter the shops and banging pots and covers with a wooden spoon, they sing a rhyme in Venetian dialect saying:


San Martin xe ‘ndà in sofita

A trovar ea so novissa

E a so novissa no ghe gera

San Martin casca par tera

E col nostro sachetin

Cari signori xe San Martin

Fora el soldin!


That sounds like:


Saint Martin went to the attic

to meet his girlfriend

his girlfriend wasn’t there

Saint Martin fell on the floor

and with our little bag

dear Sirs, it’s Saint Martin’s day

Get out the coins!


Although they don’t get any money, the shops keepers would give them candies and chocolates just to stop the big noise! A sort of local Halloween, let’s say!

But that’s not all: when they get home, they are welcomed by an amazing fragrance coming out of the kitchen. St Martin’s cake is ready! Yes, a few days before November 11th all the bakeries in Venice start displaying these big flat cookies covered with icing, and decorated with colorful candies and chocolates, but mom’s one is always the best! Simply delicious!


This special cake in the shape of a knight on a horse to commemorate St Martin, a roman soldier that decided to cut his military cloak in half to share it with a beggar and after he dreamt of Jesus dressed with his half a cloak, he became Christian.  According to the legend, after St Martin helped the poor, the freezing winter day suddenly turned into a real Indian summer: in Venice, we say St Martin’s summer.


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