San Martino in Venice isn’t Halloween

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The 31st of October to the 11th of November is a special time for children. This party time doubles in fact. The children in Venice awaited impatiently the traditional San Martino festival so that they could parade around the city asking stores for candy or coins. Today with the recent celebration of Halloween- of very different origins- but with similar traditions- the children can have twice the fun.

There is no doubt, nonetheless, that walking along the Venetian alleys and seeing the children keeping the traditions alive restores an even more authentic image of the lagoon city, something that obviously a festival like Halloween can’t do.   

The Festival of San Martino is one of the more original and heartfelt Venetian Traditions.  For the summer of San Martino and its celebration it is tradition to eat the typical dessert shaped like Saint Martin on a horse (here you can read the recipe). In the squares you can find children armed with pots and pans to “batter san martin” which in Venetian essentially means bang for Saint Martin, while singing a folkloric song in exchange for candy and spare change.

The San Martino Festival is celebrated even in the mainland with many events for children and families: animators, music, laboratories and gastronomic stands help keep this tradition alive.

In Venice, there are two churches dedicated to Saint Martin and what better occasion than to visit both if not during this time and avoiding some of the more crowded areas. One is found not far from the Arsenale in the Castello quarter and dates back to the 16th century. Projected by the famous Jacopo Sansovino; the other is found on the island of Burano where Giambattista Tiepolo’s painting Crucification is located.

Photo: Barbara da Flickr.

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