In the movie New Moon from the Twilight saga, Bella arrives in Volterra, Italy, just in time to prevent Edward from revealing himself as a vampire to a crowd of mortals at the San Marco Day festival on March 19. Festival goers, dressed in red hooded dresses, march in procession with a statue of Saint Mark to the church in the center of the city. In the Twilight world, “San Marco” is celebrated by mortals for having rid the city of vampires, when he was, in fact, a vampire. Volterra is the home of the Volturri, the lawmakers of the vampire world. Marcus is one of them. Some Twilight fans wear red on March 19 to commemorate the holiday.

New Moon Author Stephanie Meyer borrowed the fictional Saint Mark’s Day from the true European celebration of Saint Mark’s Day. She changed the date: Saint Mark’s Day is April 25. Because the date coincides with the celebrations of Easter (a moving holiday; the date varies, but usually occurs in March or April) and a number of other Eurasian spring festivals, Saint Mark’s Day is believed to be a Christianized version of a higher pagan observance. In the book Ostara, Edain McCoy writes: “As was done with many pagan festivals in Europe, the early church tried to refocus the symbolism of Ostara [the spring festival for Germanic Pagans] on the feast of San Marcos. Rather than being a feast of rebirth, the imagery of Saint Mark concentrated on death and martyrdom, through which Christian rebirth is achieved. “

Saint Mark is traditionally considered the author of the Gospel of Mark in the Christian Bible. He is believed to be the companion of Saint Paul, the great early Christian evangelist, referred to in the Book of Acts as “John Mark.” Paul’s disciple Mark is believed to have used Paul’s preaching as the basis for the Gospel. He is also remembered as the founder of the Coptic Church. Coptic tradition holds that Mark appears in the Gospels as the young man who brought water to the house where the Last Supper of Jesus and his Apostles took place, as the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested, and for pouring the water. Jesus was turned into wine at the wedding feast in Cana.

Mark is said to have been martyred on April 25, 68, in Alexandria, Egypt. It bothered a group of locals that he tried to turn them away from their traditional gods. They put a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he died. Its main sanctuaries are in Egypt and Italy. His Italian sanctuary is the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, which is traditionally said to be the place where Mark’s remains are buried. So it really has a connection to Italy, though not specifically to the city of Volterra.

Perhaps due to his martyrdom, over the centuries many curious traditions arose about the celebration of the feast of Saint Mark. In 17th to 19th century England, especially in the north and west, folklore held that the specters of those who would die the following year made a procession, in the order in which they would die, through the graveyard and into the church. at midnight on St. Mark’s Eve. Some said that the procession would be of coffins, or of corpses without heads or in decomposition. Others said that the procession would be of identifiable ghosts, resembling ghosts, and that one could sit and watch the procession as it went by and thus know who was going to die.

To see these specters, the folklore said, you had to fast. Another legend held that one had to be present in the cemetery on Saint Mark’s Eve for three years in a row, and only in the third year were the specters seen. Sometimes these living observers saw their own specters and died soon after. Another superstition regarding Saint Mark’s Eve is that on this night, the witches who had sold their souls to the devil (or written their names in the devil’s book) and wished to keep their supernatural powers had to walk three times around the church upside down. through the keyhole and recite certain words, or his powers would be lost.

Another traditional activity on Saint Mark’s Eve was removing the ashes from the hearth. If the ashes formed the shape of a shoe, someone living in the house would die during the year.

Saint Mark’s Eve was one of the three nights of the year associated with the dead. The others are Saint John’s Eve and All Hallows’ Eve. According to some legends, in these three nights those who have died can return to earth as spirits. This belief about All Saints’ Eve (Halloween) is a Christian appropriation of the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, the point at which the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest, and also the point intermediate between autumn and winter. Similarly, Saint Mark’s Eve marks the halfway point between spring and summer and is associated with the pagan festival of Ostara. The eve of San Juan, which is traditionally celebrated on June 23, is associated with the pagan festival of the summer solstice or summer solstice.

However, not all the legends associated with Saint Mark’s Eve are associated with death. The night was also one in which young women tried to guess who their future partners would be. There were several ways to accomplish this: collecting twelve sage leaves at midnight, walking nine times around a haystack while reciting, “Here’s the sheath, where’s the knife?” or baking a silly cake, eating a piece of the cake, and then walking backwards to the bed without saying a word (hence the word “silly”). If a woman did any of these things, but especially if she prayed to Saint Mark while doing them, she would see the shadow or glimpse the man she would one day marry. However, if she went to bed without seeing that shadow and dreamed of a freshly dug grave, that meant she would die single.

However, these are largely English customs. In Italy, if Saint Mark’s Day is celebrated, it is with banquets, drinks and / or bread offerings to the less fortunate. The custom of dressing in red and making a procession seems to be an invention of Stephanie Meyer.

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