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  • Festa del Bocolo

    By Anthony Parente

    Festa del bocoĊ‚o (rosebud festival) in St Mark's Square, Venice
    © Alessandra Battistel CC BY-SA 4.0
    April 25th is a national holiday in Italy as they celebrate the Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day), which celebrates the liberation of Italy from Nazism and Fascism in 1946. In Venice they also celebrate the Festa di San Marco, which is the city's patron saint, as well as the Festa del Bocolo (rose bud festival).

    The Festa del Bocolo is a tradition where the man gives his loved one a rosebud, bocolo in Venetian dialect, as a symbol of eternal love. It is a romantic gesture that spurs from a centuries old legend that dates to medieval times.

    Legend tells us of a love between Maria (also known as Vulcana by virtue of the splendor of her eyes), daughter to the Doge of Venice, and Tancredi a troubadour. The star-crossed lovers were from different social classes, but that did not matter to them. When the Doge found out he was outraged, and he would never allow his daughter to marry a commoner. Maria persuaded Tancredi to join Charlemagne's army and fight the Arabs in Spain to earn fame, show his courage, and prove he is worthy of Maria. Tancredi joined the army and quickly showed his valor and rose among the ranks. As fate would have it Tancredi was fatally wounded, and his body came to rest on a rosebush. Before his last breath extinguished, he plucked a rose stained with his blood and gave it to Orlando, a legendary hero and soldier, begging him to deliver it to Maria as his final pledge of love. Orlando arrived in Venice on the eve of St. Mark's day and found Maria, she saw him holding a rose and her body went numb filled with grief knowing her love had died. The next morning Maria was found dead in her bed with the blood-stained rose resting on her heart.

    For Venetians, the rose bud has become a symbol of undying love and every April 25th to honor this great love between Maria and Tancredi men give their loved ones a single rose bud as a symbol of true love. You do not need to be Venetian to take part in this tradition. Surprise your loved one with a single rose and let them know how much they mean to you.

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