(Editors Note: I am publishing this a day early because my internet is 'supposed' to be disconnected by Friday--by the way, I did call the credit card company and took care of FastWeb my own way! I hope to check email and write a few times more before the flight--I am sure it will be nothing but adventures to share during this last week.)
April 25th in Italy is the equivalent of July 4th in America. Its a big day of celebrating and lucky for them, it falls on a Friday, so many people get a long weekend out of it.
But in Venice, April 25th means something else---those Venetians love to be different than the rest of Italy! Here it is the celebration of the patron saint, Mark. Obviously, the Basilica here is named after him and legend has it that his ruins lie here as well.
Seems that back in the 9th century or so, two Venetians took off for Alexandria to smuggle the remains of Mark to Venice so they could have their own patron saint and be better (or different) than Rome and St. Peters. To make a long legend short, Mark had a dream or vision once that he would spend the rest of life (or death) in Venice and so these Venetians thought it was only just to help a dead guy out. They smuggled his remains in a vat of pork so that the Muslim inspectors in Alexandria wouldnt get anywhere near him and know what they were doing. Mark arrived back safely in Venice and took his stance as the patron saint of the city with the winged lion as his mascot.
During the construction and rebuilding of the Basilica over time, they seemed to have 'lost' the remains of Mark in the building! So much for being revered! Anyway, they had like a huge prayer session and asked for a sign and Marks hand came out of the wall along with some smoke indicating where he was and they promptly moved him to center stage where he remains today.
There you have it....as a Christian, I cant help but be disappointed at this legend. But on the other hand, it is ever so amusing and the Venetians arent really pious about it and dont claim to have the end all authority like you find in Rome, so I get it and take it as another part of what makes Venice Venice.
As for celebrating this day, men are supposed to give a rose to their sisters, mothers, wives and girlfriends. What this has to do with the price of tea in china and Mark's remains I dont know, but I think this is finally the one day of the year that those annoying rose peddlers will be happy!