St. Mark’s day in Venice and the “bocolo” legend

In Venice 25th April is an important day, it is St. Mark’s day, the feast of the city Patron. Every year on that day religious celebrations in St. Mark’s Basilica take place.

The “bocolo” legend

But 25th April in Venice is not only a religious matter: on this day every Venetian man uses to give a “bocolo” (a rose bud) to his beloved women – wife, girlfriend, daughters. This habit is explained with two stories or legends that we are telling you here.

bocolo legend


Maria and Tancredi legend

The first bocolo legend talks about Maria, a noble woman, and Tancredi, a troubadour. They loved each other but they could not be together because of their social gap. To improve his social status Tancredi searches for celebrity in the war against Spanish Moors. During the war he was hit and he died falling on a white rose garden: roses became red colored with his blood.

Tancredi asked his fellow Orlando to bring one of that roses to Maria. Back to Venice the day before St. Mark’s day Orlando gives her the rose: the day after, on St. Mark’s day, Maria was found dead with the red rose bud laying on her heart.

From that moment Venetian lovers use that flower as symbol of their love.

The rose garden legend

According to the second legend the bocolo tradition finds its origins from the rose garden growing near St. Mark’s burial place.

The rose garden was given to Basilio, a sailor living in Giudecca, because he helped stealing the remains of the Saint.

When Basilio died the rose garden became the natural border between the property divided between his two children. As time passed by fights divided the two branches of the family and from that moment the garden stopped to flower.

Many years after, on 25th April, a girl and a boy belonging to the two different families fell in love wtching each other across the rose garden and from that moment it started to flower again. The boy took one of the red rose buds and gave it to the girl.

To remember this happy ending love Venetians give a red rose bud to their lovers.