The New Year’s celebration has its origins in the festivities honoring the Roman god Janus, who lends his name to the month of January.
In the Veneto region, despite most of Europe adopting first the Julian and later the Gregorian calendar (from 1582) during the Republic of Venice, the year began in March in the Serenissima.
As a consequence, the term “more veneto” (meaning “according to Venetian custom”) was added to the dates in documents.
By using the months of January and February as “more veneto,” it meant indicating the months of the subsequent Gregorian year (for example, January 1601 “more veneto” corresponded to January 1602 in the Gregorian calendar).
In the Serenissima, the year commenced on the 1st of March, following the ancient tradition of starting the year with the onset of spring and the rebirth of nature, a practice that the Romans followed until the introduction of the Julian calendar.
The very ancient origin of this custom is demonstrated by the names of the months that we still know today.
In fact, if March was considered the first month of the year, September was the seventh, October the eighth, November the ninth, and December the tenth (the names of the months indicated their position in the calendar).
Cao de ano
However, the Bati Marso was not just a celebration held only on the first day of the year (Cao de ano), but also in the days leading up to it.
It was indeed a custom to roam the streets with pots, lids, and other homemade musical instruments, banging on them and creating a great deal of noise.
This was a way to drive away the winter and the cold and encourage the arrival of the beautiful season, hence the name Bati Marso.