Milanese tradition: the 3rd of February, St Biagio and Panettone

We are living in a world where everything is possible and accessible with one click.
Nowadays children grow up surrounded by technology and, sometimes, obtaining what they want (food, games, phones etc...) is so easy that they don't understand the value of "effort, waiting and the reward". The need for instant gratification is higher than it has ever been.

For this reason it is very important to keep alive the tradition of our ancestors and talk about "how things used to be". 
During World War II there was poverty, people didn't have too much, and thanks to the simplest things our traditions began. 

One Italian tradition relates to the period right after Christmas, and it originated in Milan: it is called "San Biagio's Day" and it's on the 3rd of February.

During Christmas all the people who want to celebrate this tradition, preserve a slice of panettone for the 3rd of February. 
As panettone is a fresh food, once it is open for a while, it begins to be stale, always good to eat, but a bit dry and hard.
This is the way you have to eat it, if you want to respect the tradition :) 

On the 3rd of February, the first thing you have to eat in the morning before breakfast, is a piece of panettone. It will protect your throat from the flu and sore throat for the rest of the winter because "San Bias benedis la gola e él nas" (St Biagio blesses the throat and nose). 

Biagio was a bishop and a doctor in the third century a.C.
The legend has it that one day a lady brought him her son almost dead because he had swallowed a fish bone and he couldn't breathe; Biagio gave him a piece of breadcrumbs which removed the fish bone and allowed the child to breathe again. 
For this reason he was named the "throat protector" and he was proclaimed a Saint after his death. 

The relation with panettone and Milan is connected to another legend: 
One day a peasant brought to Biagio a small panettone to bless, but he was very busy that day so he asked the lady to come back in 3 days to pick up the blessed panettone.
After the lady left, Biagio forgot to bless the panettone and started eating it instead and he finished it.
When the lady came back to pick it up, Biagio was ready to apologise for his behaviour and gave her the empty involucre, but when the lady opened the wrapping, she found a panettone twice the size of the one she left.
That was a miracle for everyone. 

If we want to be more realistic, It is also probable that some merchant who needed to sell all the remaining panettone produced before Christmas, started the legend. Who knows... 

The thing we certainly know is that every year in Milan on the 3rd of February we eat panettone to protect our throat and nose!