The island of Murano is famed for its legendary glass works. So any important event on the island is linked inevitably with glass works. The Murano glass blowing art gained momentum in the 13th century when the glass works were shifted to the island of Murano to prevent the likelihood of fire accidents on the main island of Venice.
Murano lies in the Adriatic Sea, north of Venice, sufficiently far away from the mainland. Here the glass artisans were kept in complete isolation from the rest of the world and this lack of freedom was compensated by the elevated status allowed to them on the island. There they flourished for a few centuries.
The main event of Murano is takes place in the last month of the year, December. It is a one month long festivities. It is called Natale di Vetro (Christmas of Glass). The opening of the festival is on December 5th, the St. Nicholas Day. St. Nicholas is considered to be the patron saint of the glass blowers.
This is a festival for celebrating glass making and its products. It starts with a mass of St Nicholas at Chiesa di San Pietro Martire. Thereafter there are various characteristic events that are conducted regularly every year. All these featured events are invariably connected with glass making. The Tunnel of Lights, as the name indicates it is a fabulous light show. This unique show is conducted in the portico of the San Pietro cloister.
The artisans of the island compete with each other to craft elaborate chandeliers. During the initial stage of the Murano glass industry, the chandeliers were the prime products traded from the island. This fact is celebrated through the Tunnel of Light. The magnificent chandeliers made by these artisans light up the portico of San Pietro cloister to form a blazing tunnel of light. It will be an incredible experience to any tourist.
It is during this festival the master artisans exhibit their unmatched expertise in the art during the 2006 event Simone Cenedese, an expert craftsman and his team made the world’s tallest glass Christmas tree, which was exhibited in many places. This three-ton wonder lighted up with 40 halogen lamps was rightly named "Riflessi di vetro in un albero di Natale" or "Glass Reflections in a Christmas tree".
The same experts were at work again after two years in 2008 to produce another glass marvel called "Natale di luce in una cometa di vetro" ("Christmas of light in a glass comet") this is made of blue glass and is permanently fixed in front of Campo Santo Stefano and it is the Murano Christmas symbol.
Apart from the glass architecture many concerts and exhibitions are held to commemorate the event. The glass artisans often demonstrate their glass blowing expertise in front of audience. There are art schools that organize glass blowing workshops for children during this period.
A boat race named "Glass works Regatta" is another feature of this annual event it is organized in the Murano’s Grand Canal, in which all the big glass works participate. The boats used are six-oar Caorline boats.
"Furnace Food" is a series of special traditional dinners cooked in the furnaces by various glass makers. These dinners are held at the factories on different days. And it forms an integral part of the annual Christmas event of the Murano Island.
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by Marina Chernyak