Saint Martin's Day is the feast day of Saint Martin of
Tours and is celebrated in the liturgical year on 11 November.
Saint Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier who was baptised as an adult and became a bishop in a French town. His best known saintly act was when he had cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save him from the cold.
In Venice the tradition of Saint Martin (San Martino) has developed into a delightful day for the local children. The bakeries and pastry shops all make beautifully decorated biscuits in the shape of a man on a horse. The man is of course Saint Martin. These large biscuits are elaborately covered with sweets, chocolate coins and icing sugar. On the feast day of Saint Martin the children of Venice walk or run around the campos of the city visiting the local shops and requesting a small gift. The shop-keepers are ready with sweets, biscuits and small cakes to give to the children that "in exchange" will sing a typical song. It’s like Halloween only much more innocent. In the days leading up to 11th November bakeries and pastry shops windows are filled with these colourful and joyous displays.