The 9th of October is the day of the Valencian Community and the feast of Sant Donís, or Valencian lovers’ day. On this holiday it is typical to give your sweetheart what is known as “mocadorà”, pronounced “mocaorà” in Valencian, a handkerchief wrapped in marzipan sweets in the shape of fruit and vegetables from the Valencian orchard. These days, the windows of the city’s bakeries and pastry shops display these small, colourful works of art, as well as the “piuleta” and the “tronador”, larger marzipan figures that represent firecrackers. If you are in town and want to surprise your partner, buy this sweet gift.
The Origins of Sant Donís
The tradition originated on 9 October 1238, when James I conquered Valencia. In the mid-15th century, the celebration of the entry into the city by firing “piuletes” and “tronadors” became popular. In the 18th century, after the War of Succession, Felipe V abolished the Fueros and the festivity of Sant Donís, also banning firecrackers and rockets. The confectioners’ guild was able to circumvent this ban by recreating the ‘piuleta’ and the ‘tronador’ in marzipan sweets. To these were added small fruits and vegetables also made with almond paste and sugar, about those that the inhabitants of the area gave to the wife of James I thanks to the fertility of the Valencian orchards. Since then, lovers have been giving their partners a handkerchief with these sweets, thus celebrating Sant Donís, a Valentine’s Day with a Valencian flavour.
And every year, in order to maintain this tradition, the Guild of Bakers and Confectioners of Valencia holds the Sant Donis competition, in which it awards prizes: the best shop window for its special decoration with sweets and allusions to this festivity; and the best mocadorà, for the quality and variety of these tasty sweets. This year both prizes have gone to David Esteve Pastisseria, in Burriana street, 17. You will have to go and try them?
Don’t hesitate, to join in the celebration of Sant Donís, a very sweet and curious tradition!