Saturday, February 18, 2017
The most beautiful girl of Venice : Maria the Angel
The traditional “Festa delle Marie” will start today at San Pietro di Castello at 2.30 pm, with a Parade along via Garibaldi and Riva degli Schiavoni that will reach San Marco stage at 4.00 pm, where the twelve “Marias” will be introduced to the crowd waiting for them. This is for sure one of the highlight of the Carnevale.
To participate also this year were 64 young girls between 18 e i 28 years of age residing in the province of Venice/ The selections in front of the jury was also this year in the beautiful Ca 'Vendramin Calergi, home to the Venice Casino with an exclusive event organized by the driving force behind the whole event and for that also called the Mom of all the Maria", Maria Grazia Bortolato, the President of the "Venice is ... history, art and culture".
But what is the history behind the 'Festa delle Marie?
This event evokes the homage that the Venetian Doge offered every year to twelve beautiful but humble Venetian girls, offering them magnificent jewels as a bridal dowry.
The “Festa delle Marie” is articulated in different days and it is the opportunity to admire the traditional Venetian period costumes.
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 that happened during the purification of Mary ritual.
For this ritual 12 brides were chosen amongst the poorer of Venice and their wedding was blessed in the San Pietro di Castello Dome. During the ceremony the richer family of the city gifted the young ladies with donations and the Doge lend them jewels from the city treasure. Then there was a procession to San Mark's square where the brides welcomed in the Doge Palace for a feast in their honor.
More celebrations were held after that also from the Rialto to the church of Santa Maria Formosa.
It is said that in 943 the 12 brides and their jewels were raped by pirates. The pirates were chased and engaged nearby the port of Caorle where they were killed and their bodies buried into the sea so no one could commemorate them.
In honor of the ladies the port where they were saved was called "Porto delle Donzelle" and still is.
This sad event was signing the birth of the “Festa delle Marie”. At first the feast 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 Marie and it was a great opportunity to admire the beautiful ladies dressed like queens.
The celebration was held for many centuries, until 1349 when the real girls were replaced by wooden shaped figures. This decision was taken because the spirit of the celebration was more connected with the opportunity to meet the beautiful girls than the religious recurrence.
The decision became soon quite unpopular, and the 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 the Venetians use to this day to describe a woman with a little chest: “Maria de Tola”, literally “Mary the wooden plank”.
The feast has been resumed in 1999 by famous director and cultural operator, Bruno Tosi and proposed within the Carnival program.
The penultimate day of Carnival, Monday, February 27, in a Grand Gala in the Apollonian Halls of the Gran Teatro La Fenice will be chosen among the 12 most beautiful girls the “Maria” and the next day, Shrove Tuesday February 28, in Piazza San Marco the Maria 2017 will be presented to the city and the public.
The winner of the Feast of Marie, will be the star of the "The Flight of the Angel" the next year. This is another iconic event reminiscent of the traditional homage for the Doge. A thrilling flight from the top of St. Mark's bell tower to the center of the square.
This year February 19th to jump from the bell tower will be Claudia Marchiori, last year winner.
She will be wearing a beautiful dress made by Stefano Nicolao.
From Venice With Love,
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