Even the Venetian tradition of the regattas cannot be easily traced to a definite event or circumstance ; there are various theories, although theyare not all contradictory. It seems, however, that the first regattas were races for rather large boats with between ten and fifty rowers and they were held to train youths in the art of rowing, an essential skill for the Venetian armies. The most likely theory, however, is the one that links the regatta to the solemnity of the 2nd of February in which the Purification of the Madonna is celebrated. "Every year, on 31st January, in the Basilica of S.Pietro di Castello, then the Cathedral and Episcopal See of Venice, the Feast of the Marie was celebrated with great pomp. That day also marked the anniversary of the translation of the body of Saint Mark the Evangelist ." On this day, the mariagges of varius poor couples were celebrated, at the exspense of the State, couppples that received dowries and gifts from the Doge, the Signoria and the Patrician families. On the 2nd February, then, the young couples were present at special festivities.
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