An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Makes my Monday: Celebrating in (Italian) Style

Faith, family and friends . . . mixed with a little bocce, a little Italian music, and a whole lot of food . . . all these things make my Monday.

This past weekend we had my parents and three families over for a traditional celebration of the Feast Day of St. Joseph.

Ten adults and nine children gathered around the table and stood behind their chairs.

Then each of the nine children (oldest to youngest) read something about this feast day.

1. The Feast Day of St. Joseph is an important celebration in southern Italy. According to legend, a great drought in Sicily led to a wide-spread famine, and in desperation the people prayed to St. Joseph asking for rain.

2. In their prayers, they promised that if He would send them rain, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. The rain did come, and the people of Sicily named San Giuseppe their Patron Saint.

3. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation, and even today it is considered good luck. It is believed that the pantry that contains even a single fava bean will never be bare, and it is a reminder of God’s provisions through the intercession of St. Joseph.

4. Today, during this feast day celebration, it is traditional to invite family and friends to share a meal together. It is also a time to give to the poor.

5. Part of the celebration includes an altar to St. Joseph, typically constructed with three tiers representing the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Notice that here, instead of three tiers, we have three tables.

6. The altar is decorated with candles, food, flowers, and bread.

7. Saint Joseph is considered the patron saint of fathers, carpenters, social justice, engineers, families, fathers, house hunters, and laborers.

8. His symbols are: carpenter’s tools such as saw, hammer, and nails; Bible, branch, sandals, and an old man holding the infant Jesus.

9. Now let's bow our heads for the blessing: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Pasta was the first course, which we sprinkled with a pinch of breadcrumbs to symbolize sawdust as a tribute to St. Joseph, the carpenter.

Then on to the second course . . .

The dinner is all about fellowship and sharing, so all the food is placed on the table and passed around. Bread is torn off in chunks from one of the many loaves scattered around the table.

Dessert was strawberries in lemon juice, biscotti, espresso, and birthday cake. The youngest of the nine children, we celebrated Timothy's 5th birthday . . . again.

Finally, everyone went away with a tiny gift bag containing a handful of fava beans and a prayer card to St. Joseph.

Now, go visit Cheryl for some more Makes My Monday fun.


Missy said...

Wow! What a wonderful tradition! And great pictures! Spending time with family is the best!

Kim H. said...

Bia, you are AMAZING -- and pretty much my HERO! Thanks for being so inspirational -- and I'm sure everyone had a lovely time.

GrandmaK said...

Indeed what a grand time you all had! It's evident by the wonderful pics and the time you spent to make this a glorious event! Good For YOU!!! cathy

Tiziana said...

Mamma mia Maria, che tavola meravigliosa. Non so come fai a trovare il tempo e le idee per fare queste meravigliose cose. Sei proprio brava. Congratulazioni, ti ammiro molto.

Cheryl Lage said...

Oh Bia...what a wonderful tradition and incredibly poignant meal this must have been. Love how at peace your little one's face seems. He's precious. Bread crumbs as sawdust too----LOVE it!

Thank you for Making My Monday, Bia!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Wow - as I've noted before, you set such a pretty table!

Laura said...

This is beautiful. Why aren't we all doing this?

Amy Jo said...

What a beautiful table you have set! I am sure that everyone had a wonderful meal - food and fellowship both!

Lisa said...

Oh, BIA! I'm so hating myself for missing this post on the Feastday!! This is so wonderful! Why can't I live closer to you? I so want to use the idea of presenting the facts of St. Joseph at the feast. This would work so well for many of the feast days! You are, as always, an inspiration! (And, yes, you set the most beautiful table. &:o)