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Festa delle Marie

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This celebration was born in 943, long before the beginning of Carnival Celebrations to whom it was successively linked.The feast is connected with an episode happened during the purification of Mary ritual, 12 brides were chosen amongst the poorer of Venice and their wedding blessed in the San Pietro di Castello dome, during the ceremony the richer family of the city gifted the young ladies with donations, the Doge land them jewels from the city treasure then a procession to San Mark&'s square, here the brides were welcomed in the doge palace for a feast in their honour, the celebration wasn't ended yet, after the from Rialto to the church of Santa Maria Formosa, where more celebrations were held.

It is say that in 943 the 12 brides and their jewels were raped by pirates, the pirates were chased and engaged nearby the port of Caorle, here they were killed and their bodies buried into the sea so no one could commemorate them, in honour of the ladies the port where they were saved was called "porto delle donzelle" and still is.
Beginning from this date the Festa delle Marie was initiated, at first the fest consisted on a boat procession along the Canals, during the parade there were several stops to allow the Marie to participate to religious functions and private feast with the citizens. It was considered a good wish to meet the Marieand it was a great opportunity to admire the beautiful ladies dressed like queens.

The celebration was held for many century until 1349 then the ladies were impersonated by wooden shape, this decision was taken because the spirit of the celebration was more connected with the opportunity to meet the ladies than the religious recurrence.
The decision became soon quite unpopular, citizen start to fire upon the shapes with various objects and vegetables, the celebration was then suppressed in 1793. From those episodes comes a popular way to say, Venetians still say Maria de Tola (literally Mary the wooden plank) to point at a cool little breasted woman. The feast has been resumed in 1999 e proposed within the Carnival program even if on a reduced way.

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