On April 25th, Italy celebrates also its freedom from the Nazi-Fascism, but for Venetians it's a more important and older tradition; the Feast of Saint Mark, saint protector of the city.
Saint Mark’s remains were stolen from Alexandria and brought to Venice in 828 by two legendary Venetian merchants: Rustico da Torcello and Buono da Malamocco.
It is told that, to steal Saint Mark’s corpse, the two merchants hid it under a load of pork meat, passed the customs controls and exited the city almost unnoticed because of the well known disgust Muslims have for pork meat.
Saint Mark’s remains were received with great joy in Venice, not only because it would have drawn pilgrims from all over Europe, but also because Venetian history tells that the evangelist Mark evangelized Venetian population becoming their protector.
Therefore, Saint Mark became the protector and the symbol of the city, resembling a winged lion wielding a sword and holding a book (the Bible) with the Latin writing "Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus" (May Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist).
At the time of the Serenissima Republic, on April 25th in Saint Mark’s Square there was a procession holded by religious, civil and arts representative authorities and the celebrations happened also on January 31st, the day when Saint Mark’s remains were brought to Venice, and even on June 25th, the day when his remains were founded inside Saint Mark’s Basilica.
Today the religious celebration is held just on April 25th, the date of Saint Mark’s death, and still nowadays there is a procession in Saint Mark’s Basilica, during which all civil and religious authorities of Venice take parts.
In Venice on April 25th it is also the Festa del Bocolo (Rosebud Festival) during which men traditionally give a single rosebud to the women they love.