Go to Joseph!
By Guest Author, Terri Aluise
“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine,
At least I have always found it so.
One of the best ways to honor St. Joseph, the patron of the family and protector of the universal church, is to hold a St. Joseph’s Day Table.
The folklore says that in Sicily during the middle ages, a terrible drought had taken over the island. In desperation, the townspeople gathered together and prayed for St. Joseph, their patron, to intercede for them. St. Joseph heard their plea and answered their prayer. In gratitude, the townspeople decided to honor St. Joseph with a great feast in which everyone was invited, especially and including the poor.
There is probably no nation on earth that loves San Giuseppe more than Italy. Today, in many Italian villages, especially in Sicily, every one of means contributes to a table spread out in the public square as an offering for favors received from prayers to this kindly saint. Special foods, linens and flowers adorn the table. A statue of St. Joseph is placed on top of a tier of three steps representing the Holy Trinity. The bread made for this day is often shaped like a scepter or cross: villagers representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph are guests of honor at the feast and other guests are the orphans, widows or beggars. After Mass, all go in procession to this festive table. Once the priest blesses the feast, everyone shouts “Viva la tavola di San Guiseppe!”
It is a wonderful tradition that is now celebrated all over the world. Generosity marks this day, as did the character of St. Joseph himself. It is a day of sharing with the poor and the needy. Although many parishes will hold a St. Joseph’s Day Table, many Catholics have tables in their own homes. The doors are always open and all are welcome.
Of course, the best part of this tradition is the food. Most of the dishes associated with this holiday are Italian. The folklore says that the main crop harvested the year of the first St. Joseph’s Day Table was fava beans. Hence, fava beans or dishes made with fava beans are usually served. Another popular custom is to have a pasta dish topped with bread crumbs. The bread crumbs represent sawdust, since St. Joseph was a carpenter. Sfingis (or Zeppoles) are a Sicilian dessert that has long been associated with this feast day. Although St. Joseph’s Day gives us an opportunity to feast on great Italian food, there are other ethnic dishes that have made a splash on these tables. St. Joseph’s Day is also popular in places like Poland, Portugal, and Spain. Since this feast falls during Lent, it is customary for the dishes to be either fish or vegetarian.
This article, Go to Joseph! is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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