Tuesday, March 18, 2008
St. Joseph's Day Table by Morgan Mandel
To add flavor to a book and make your character seem authentic, it's a good idea to include family and cultural traditions. Who hasn't heard of the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? That movie is filled with many cultural references and customs.
You'd have to live in a cave not to be aware of March 17, St. Patrick's Day, a day for wearing of the green, when even people who aren't Irish pretend to be.
In passing, I just happened to mention to a few people about St. Joseph's Day, an Italian feast day, celebrated on March 19, a day for wearing of the red. They'd never heard of it before. Also, they'd never heard of a St. Joseph's Day Table.
If you belong to the category of people who have never heard of or participated in a St. Joseph's Day Table, you've missed out on a wonderful event.
The St. Joseph's Day Table is said to have originated in the Middle Ages when a drought struck Sicily and families prayed to God and also to St. Joseph. To stay alive, many of them resorted to eating fava beans. When their prayers were answered and the rains came, the Italians named March 19 as a special feast day dedicated to St. Joseph. They set up a grand table of food to share and celebrate. Since it was Lent, the food was meatless, but plentiful. Flowers and other decorations added to the festivities.
From such roots the present St. Joseph's Day Table was born, traditionally celebrated sometime near March 19, consisting of a massive buffet of meatless dishes, usually with more than one variety of pasta, along with salads, breads, plus almost any kind of pastry you can think of, with lots of flowers and other decorations. The St. Joseph's Day Table not only provides a grand feast, but also lucky fava beans, a talisman purported to prevent pantries from going bare.
I've posted a few photos of the St. Joseph's Day Table I attended last Saturday sponsored by Our Lady of the Wayside Church in Arlington Heights. I hope you enjoy them.
I'd be interested to know if anyone else has heard of St. Joseph's Day or a St. Joseph's Day Table. Also, have you been to one?
I'm going to stop now. All this talk of food is getting me hungry.