Christmas Eve in Venice

Saturday 1492 – 24th Dec 2011 – Christmas Eve.

Here I am in Venice again visiting my daughter for Christmas. She goes home on the 28th Dec so this will be my last time. The immediate family is here – me, my daughter, her partner and my son.

The 3 of them took themselves off to Padua this morning to visit the Scrovegni chapel with its Giotto Frescos.  I decided not to go as I wanted to visit Cimitero -St Michele – the Cemetery Island just off the main Islands of Venice.  This is my 6th visit to Venice and I have never been…always intended to go but never quite made it and it has a curious fascination. The island is studded with Dark Cypress trees and the whole is surrounded by a high Terracotta wall and there are some famous foreigners buried there like Ezra pound and Sergei Diaghilev.

As well as individual and family graves there are many remembrance walls like the one below with name plaques and often photos; some are well looked after, others less so. The upper ones are reached by wheeled ladders reminiscent of those in old libraries.

This seemed like a good day to go as Christmas isn’t just about being with family or friends it’s also a time for remembering those family and friends who are no longer with us.  I am not at all religious and don’t believe in God but if I’m in a religious building I still find myself lighting a candle and thinking about those who are gone. This Christmas eve was no exception. In the little church on St Michele I lit candles and in particular thought of my late father Bert who died when I was 17, my brother Geoff who died aged 53,  my ex husband Sydney at 59, his father Jim in his 90’s and  my friend’s daughter Laura who died way too young in her early teens. 

I took a photo of the candles and here they are in remembrance of all those who are no longer here.


Later in the day my daughter, her partner and I decided we’d go to midnight Mass at Basilica San Marco in St Mark’s square ( well really my daughter decided ! ) – I had reservations because as I mentioned I’m not at all religious (neither are they) but this was sold to me as a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We arrived a little after 11 pm and my daughter had said it would all be over at 12… not so !

We tucked ourselves into a corner sitting on a stone seat against the outer wall . My daughter and her partner decided they’d like to go and stand nearer the middle so they could see more. I was happy to stay where I was and took a few photos before the service started, like the Ascension Dome pictured below with its 13th Century mosaics.

Shortly after they went a very old man came over to my corner and I offered him my seat as no-one else looked as though they were going to;  after all I’d only be standing until 12 !! Ha! Ha!

The service started and went on and on (and on !)  in Italian, of course, so I didn’t have a clue what was being said and could see very little of what was happening ( the choir and incense were good though!) At 12.40 a.m I decided I’d had enough ( I’m not great at standing as I have a bad ankle and I was frozen) and sent a text to my daughter’s partner to say I was going to catch a Vaporetto (water bus) back to the apartment. When I got to the Vaporetto stand I discovered there were going to be no boats! so text to say I was on my way back to the Basilica to wait for my daughter and her partner to come out.

 No reply!  I was tempted just to walk back but didn’t think it would be a great idea to walk halfway across Venice on my own at 1 a.m carrying some very expensive camera equipment.

They eventually emerged at 1.20 a.m, all delighted that they hadn’t been standing at all but had  been ushered to seats close to the altar and the centre of the action ! I was spitting feathers by this time  and confess I wasn’t the best of company on the 1/2hr or so walk home ! !  Ho Hum !

There’s no moral to this story – it’s just a fact of life that not everything goes according to plan ( in fact most things don’t! )

I’ll leave you with a photo of a large house on the Grand Canal all lit up for Christmas with a rather pretty moving snowflake scene.


Seasons Greetings to you all from the Saturday Girl.  ‘Til next week .. Ciao, Ciao.

P.s – You can see my other posts about Venice here Departures and Arrivals and here Acqua Alta ,Umbrellas and Wellies 


22 comments on “Christmas Eve in Venice

  1. these photographs are really beautiful!!!

  2. First time visiting your blog (arrived via Munchow going to Cuba) and I find your San Michele and Venice photos very good, with some emotion in them. Great!

  3. […] today. I hadn’t seen my mum over the festive period because, as you know, I was away in Venice at Christmas  . Mum lives 3 1/2  – 4 hrs away so I don’t go too often. She is 85 now and was born […]

  4. Tessa says:

    if you like cemetaries – do find time to go to Highgate Cemetary sometime – lots of famous graves from Karl Marx to Douglas Adams and even the Miliband’s father – but it has a real feel of history and of life (seems odd to say that for a cemetary, but for me it gave a feeling of life)

  5. Yeah, I’m pretty confident that I could handle being in Venice for Christmas.

    Nice post!

  6. puttyfoot says:

    Hi Helen I too am not religious but there is something very special about these places, the passing of time, the age and atmosphere I sometimes think thats well thats what I like to believe we leave behind an impression and electrical field of personality and happenings, matters not if its true but I like the idea 😀

    Lovely read

    Lisa xx

    • hellenjc says:

      Thanks Lisa,
      We leave behind the effect we have had on people I think. By that I mean that every encounter we have with someone whether short or long affects them in some way, not always good of course !

  7. Steven says:

    If there was ever a good place for things not to go according to plan, you could do much worse than a city as interesting as Venice. 🙂

  8. drawandshoot says:

    What a lovely set of images and a very interesting Christmas eve you had! Thanks for letting us in on your adventures even if not all went according to plan.

  9. I don’t suffer from Wander Lust but I really, really want to visit Venice. And it would seem that even if the city irritates it does it with style.

    • hellenjc says:

      Oh yes…always with style, Ziggy 🙂
      Venice is a must visit place but, in general, avoid the heat of summer and the most touristy areas. The winter is a great time to visit in my opinion.

  10. Beautiful images, and oh to be in Venice! I’m not religious either, so I could have kept your company outside that church. 🙂 Great post, Hellen! Happy Holidays!

  11. Surely a Christmas you will never forget. The photos are glorious.

  12. scillagrace says:

    Oh, my. The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua is all that Steve talked about this week. He was there many years ago, and has a huge book about Giotto that he searched for in his piles of books ’til he found it. He and my daughter and I spend an hour or so Christmas eve pouring over the prints and listening to Steve describe the feeling of being outside in a windowless chapel because the blue color was so embracing. The faces and the movement in Giotto’s work are remarkably expressive and ethereal. I am hoping to have a chance to be there in person before all my Saturdays are gone!

    • hellenjc says:

      Wow Scillagrace…I know I should have gone but I always want to be out in the open air when I’m in time as I’m sure there’ll be a next time for me and Venice 🙂

  13. gibasone says:

    Reblogged this on marcuslapelicula.

  14. mary haren says:

    Ha Ha, i love that story. I could just see your face….fuming at the back of the church. Next year go to a pub…at least you have a drink. I was also in a cathedral last night. I sing in the local cathedral choir. I only go to sing. I was also there this morning for 11.30 mass because the orchestra i play in were invited to play with a local youth choir so i had 2 religious sessions in 12 hours but put together they were not as long as your experience. Ah well maybe you were converted and dont know it yet !!!!!

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