Sunday, February 3, 2013

San Biagio and the Leftover Panettone

To be filed under: Today I Learned.

February 3rd is the feast day of San Blaise's, known in Italian as San Biagio. There's a tradition associated with it in Milan. It's the day when the panettone left over from Christmas is eaten, traditionally at breakfast, to protect from throat illnesses. San Blaise was an Armenian doctor who lived in the 3rd century AD; and the story goes that Saint Biagio saved a child who had a fishbone stuck in his throat, by giving him some bread to eat, which dislodged it. Much later, after the panettone had been invented, a Milanese lady took hers to be blessed by a monk - even today panettone are taken to church for the priest to bless them - who told her to leave it and come and pick it up in a few days. The lady didn't return until the 3rd of February, by then the monk had eaten all the panettone. The monk went to give the lady the empty wrapping which once contained her panettone, but instead of its remains he found a panettone twice the size of the original.

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