On April 25, Venice celebrates its patron saint: San Marco Evangelista. This day, however, has not only religious significance…
On April 25, Venice celebrates its patron saint: San Marco Evangelista.
This day, however, has not only religious significance because it also corresponds to the Festa del Bocolo di San Marco, which requires that red rosebuds be offered as gifts to wives and girlfriends as a sign of love.
The custom originated from a medieval legend that involved two young people: Maria, daughter of Doge Angelo Partecipazio, and Tancredi a troubadour.
The story tells that Maria and Tancredi, madly in love, wished to marry but the marriage was denied them by the girl’s father, the Doge of Venice, who did not want his daughter to marry a man of the common people.
So Mary, bewildered, convinced her Tancredi to go and fight for the Crusades in Jerusalem against the Saracens: this would have been the only way to ennoble the young man in her father’s eyes. Tancred, driven by his love for the woman, accepted the proposal and went to the Holy Land fighting alongside the army of Carlo Magno (Charlemagne).
Sometime later some French knights arrived in Venice, seeking Mary to bring her a sad message: her beloved Tancred died fighting.
The man, who distinguished himself for his courage, fell victim of the Saracens’ swords. In the last moments of his life he fell, mortally wounded, on top of a rose garden and took a rosebud that he gave to the French soldiers, with a request to take it to his beloved Maria in Venice.
The woman, after hearing the dramatic news, received the rose and went back to her rooms, falling into a sad silence. The next day, April 25, she was found dead with the flower placed on her chest.
Since then, on this date in Venice it is customary to offer one’s wives and girlfriends a red rose, as Tancredi did with his beloved Maria.
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