St. Joseph's Day March 19th
Did you hear about the pastor who was reading in his study? The housekeeper came in and said: "Father, there's a hobo at the door who wants something to eat. What should I do?"
March is the month we celebrate both Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph. The Irish get all excited about Saint Patrick. They drink green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage - basicly a boiled dinner. But we "Italian kids" love Saint Joseph. We look forward to all the delicious food and sweets on the Saint Joseph Table.
St. Joseph's Day is a big Feast for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph's intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought. So in his honor, the custom is for all to wear red, in the same way that green is worn on St. Patrick's Day.
Today, after Mass (at least in parishes with large Italian populations), a big altar ("la tavola di San Giuse" or "St. Joseph's Table") is laden with food contributed by everyone. Different Italian regions celebrate this day differently, but all involve special meatless foods: minestrone, pasta with breadcrumbs (the breadcrumbs symbolize the sawdust that would have covered St. Joseph's floor), seafood, Sfinge di San Giuseppe, and, always, fava beans, which are considered "lucky" because during the drought, the fava thrived while other crops failed.
The day ends with each participant taking home a bag that might be filled with bread, fruit, pastries, cookies, a medal of St. Joseph, a Holy Card and/or a blessed fava bean. Keep your "lucky bean," and let it remind you to pray to St. Joseph.
Even the Birds Love Saint Joseph
Another amazing thing that happens On Saint Joseph's Day is the return of the cliff swallows to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, California. The mission -- one of the oldest buildings in California, and a part of a string of 21 missions that line California's coast -- was founded on 1 November 1776, the Feast of All Saints, by the Franciscan priest, Junipero Serra, in honor of St. John Capistrano. It was begun the year before, with members of a friendly Indian tribe helping to build, but when word came that the Mission of San Diego was attacked by an unfriendly Indian tribe, the bells were buried and everyone took shelter until building could continue.
No matter the origins of the story, the fact is that each year on 23 October, the swallows fly south for 7,500 miles to Goya, Argentina. There they winter until the end of February when they make their way home, arriving back at the Mission of Capistrano on St. Joseph's Day, where they are greeted with the ringing of church bells and great festivities. A love song was written with this return of the swallows as its focal point; it was recorded by the Ink Spots, Glenn Miller, Pat Boone, and Elvis Presley (click here for an MP3 of the Inkspots's version of this song) :)
When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano
St. Joseph is symbolized by carpenters' tools and the lily, and is usually represented in art holding the Baby Jesus. He is the patron of the Church, the dying, a holy death (because it is believed he died in the company of Our Lord and Lady), happy family life, married people, carpenters, and workers.
Have a happy Saint Joseph's Day and don't forget to celebrate with lots of Italian Cookies.
March 19th is St. Joseph's Day
THIS MONTH'S COOKIE RECIPE
Here's a different cookie for you. It's not a sweet cookie for dessert or an afternoon pick-me-up. This cookie is best with your favorite soup. These biscotti are very crispy and savory and are great with soup or salad.
Corn and Chili Biscotti
Flour your table or counter then
This recipe makes about 18 biscotti
DID YOU KNOW?
There generally is more than one main course: several meats with gravy may be served (meatballs, sausage, grilled meats or braciole, and sometimes lamb or veal). Very often, these meats are precursors to several other entrees such as roasts (beef, lamb, or veal), chicken, and veal cutlets. To these are added the contorni (side dishes) of potatoes, vegetables, and salads, which could number five, six, or even seven or more. This cavalcade of sumptuous foods is followed by dessert, coffee, and after-dinner liqueurs.
Everyday meals will, of course, be less elaborate, but still may feature a pasta dish or a soup and a main course.
Till next time - have happy days.
Arrivederci - Dio ti benedica