On February 3, the Feast of San Biagio (Saint Blaise in English), the people of Milan practice a peculiar custom—eating leftover panettone cake for breakfast. It’s a tradition very likely born, at least in part, of timing—for many Catholics, the Christmas festivities come to an official end on Candlemas, February 2—but also of the saint’s legendary association with bread, which he used to save a boy choking on a fish bone. San Biagio is, in fact, the protector against throat ailments and choking (on February 3 the Blessing of the Throats is celebrated). According to this Milanese tradition, eating panettone first thing on the morning of February 3 will safeguard the throat against illness or problems.
Could this panettone di San Biagio business be an excuse to break open that final remaining panettone we’ve all hidden away in the pantry after the holidays? Fine by me.
The image below is an Eataly Milan store advert for panettone, featuring a saying in Milanese about the blessings of the saint and a note that the panetun cakes have been especially prepared for the occasion.