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Posted by angela On February - 26 - 2017 0 Comment

In Venice, Fat Thursday was celebrated in memory of the victory of Doge Vitale Michiel upon Ulrich of Treven, a member of an aristocratic Bavarian family, who obtained the investiture as Bishop of Aquileia from Frederick Barbarossa in the year 1161.

The year after, Ulrich of Treven, now the Patriarch of Aquileia, attacked the town of Grado, governed by Enrico Dandolo. The attack constrained Dandolo to escape to Venice and seek the protection of Doge Michiel.

The Serenissima could not afford to lose Grado and its salt marshes, so the Republic immediately send its powerful fleet to counterattack. Of course they won, and they captured Ulrich as a prisoner.

To liberate Ulrich, Venice imposed specific conditions on Aquileia, conditions that the city was forced to accept in order to save its Patriarch. Then, to make sure that Aquileia remembered its defeat, every year, on the last Thursday before Lent, the city had to deliver to the Venetian Doge twelve loaves, twelve pigs and a bull, to be distributed to citizens during a public spectacle.

The bull symbolically represented the Patriarch of Aquileia; it was beheaded during a ceremony in Piazza San Marco on the Thursday before Lent.

Carnival then went from Fat Thursday (Giovedì Grasso) to the following Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Martedì Grasso in Italian), the last day before the start of Lent.

celebrazione del FAT Thursday in Venezia

Here Carnival Feast on Fat Thursday (Giovedì Grasso) in Piazza San Marco, but why do we celebrate Fat Thursday? 


Text by Angela Migliorati Novek

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