San Lorenzo, shooting stars and bistecche: 10th August’s traditions in Florence
On the evening of August 10th, everyone with the nose up to watch the shooting stars.
But what is its origin? and especially why Florence is linked to the figure of St. Lorenzo?
Unfortunately, the news about the Saint’s life are just a few but we do know that he was born in Spain in 225. After a meeting with the future Pope Sixtus II, on 257 Lorenzo was assigned as head of charitable activities in the diocese of Rome. He died a year later as a result of the edict issued by Valeriano according to which all the bishops, priests and deacons were to be put to death. The deacon was martyred on August 10th, 258 lying on a grill and killed by the glowing embers at the age of 33 years.
Today San Lorenzo is the patron saint of many Italian municipalities and its liturgical celebration is on August 10th, the day of his death.
The tradition of shooting stars, right in the day of San Lorenzo, is linked to the tragic death of the martyr. The stars, in fact, can remember the coals and the burning embers that killed the deacon. Another interpretation sees the shooting stars as the tears of St. Lorenzo during his martyrdom.
As for Florence, San Lorenzo is connected to this city for two reasons: the first consecrated church in the city of Florence it was the Basilica of San Lorenzo, in 393 AD, and it became very important as a result of the construction of the nearby chapels by the Medici family.
The second reason has secular origins: for centuries it is tradition to distribute free food in the day of August 10th in the churchyard of San Lorenzo Basilica. During these evenings where the city glowed with the light of great bonfires, people were roasted large quantities of veal which were then distributed to the population. One night, many many years ago, a group of English travelers was in Florence on that night, asking other meat exclaimed in their language “beef steak”! From here a translation adapted to the Italian language created the word bistecca coming down to the present day and also always connected to Florence.
This year, as every year, Florence celebrates the night of San Lorenzo with historical parade from the piazzetta di Parte Guelfa passes through Piazza della Signoria until reach the Basilica of San Lorenzo for the usual offering of candles.
Not only religious traditions, at 21:00 the concert in the churchyard of St. Lorenzo and free distribution of lasagna and watermelon.