The Tudor Society

St Mark’s Day

St Mark by Il Pordenone

25th April is the feast day of St Mark the Evangelist, one of the apostles and the man said to have written the Gospel of Mark. He is known as the founder of Christianity in Alexandria, where a church was founded in his name, and as the founder of the Coptic Orthodox Church. As a result of his Christian work in Alexandria and his attacks on the worship of idols, at Easter 68AD he was dragged through the city by a rope around his neck before being imprisoned, where he is said to have had visions assuring him of eternal life. The next day he was dragged until his head parted from his body. Some say he was tied to a horse's tail.

Copts believe that his head is in his church at Alexandria and that other parts of his relics are housed at St Mark's in Cairo and San Marco Cathedral in Venice.

St Mark's Day was the traditional day for praying for fertile land and a good harvest. According to Keith Thomas, in Religion and the Decline of Magic, people would process across fields carrying the cross, banners and bells to bless the crops and drive away evil spirits. It derived from the Roman pagan tradition of asking the gods for a good harvest.

The symbol of St Mark is a winged lion and he is often depicted as a lion or with a lion beside him. According to one legend, he survived being thrown to the lions because instead of eating him they slept at his feet.

Here in our village in Spain, St Mark's Day, el día de San Marcos, is an important fiesta day. The whole village gets together to share a huge paella and some migas (an Andalucian dish made from breadcrumbs, garlic, paprika, vegetables and meat). Special San Marcos cakes are also enjoyed. They are like sweet bread and have a whole egg ((hen or quail) in the middle. When the bread is eaten, it is lucky to crack the egg (which is cooked) on someone's head.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. J

    Very interesting. I just don’t understand such cruelty
    man inflicts on man. 😢

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St Mark’s Day