A note from Victor Rallo Jr.
My Father loved this day and would always cook a feast for family and friends. I grew up eating pasta con sarde and the traditional sfinge on St. Josephs day. After my father passed away in 2002 I promised to keep the tradition alive, please join us and enjoy this special occasion. Saint Joseph’s Day is on Saturday March 19, 2016.
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 Giuseppe ” or “St. Joseph’s Table”) is laden with food contributed by everyone (note that all these St. Joseph celebrations might take place on the nearest, most convenient weekend). 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 (recipes below).
The table — which is always blessed by a priest — will be in three tiers, symbolizing the Most Holy Trinity. The top tier will hold a statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery. The other tiers might hold, in addition to the food: flowers (especially lilies); candles; figurines and symbolic breads and pastries shaped like a monstrance, chalices, fishes, doves, baskets, St. Joseph’s staff, lilies, the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, carpentry tools, etc.; 12 fishes symbolizing the 12 Apostles; wine symbolizing the miracle at Cana; pineapple symbolizing hospitality; lemons for “luck”; bread and wine (symbolizing the Last Supper); and pictures of the dead. There will also be a basket in which the faithful place prayer petitions.
The cry “Viva la tavola di San Giuseppe!” begins the feasting and is heard throughout the day. When the eating is done, the St. Joseph’s altar is smashed, and then three children dressed as the Holy Family will knock on three doors, asking for shelter. They will be refused at the first two, and welcomed at the third, in memory of the Holy Family’s seeking of hospitality just before Christ was born. This re-enactment is called “Tupa Tupa,” meaning “Knock Knock.”
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. (The Litany of St. Joseph would be most appropriate today! You can download the Litany, in Microsoft Word .doc format, in English
and in Latin).
Pasta di San Giuseppe (pasta with breadcrumbs that symbolize sawdust)
Bucatini or Perciatelli pasta
2 TBSP olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups chopped fresh fennel
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP chopped fresh basil
4 cans of drained, skinless, boneless sardines
Heat oil in large pot, and saute in it the garlic and pepper flakes. Add the fennel, tomatoes, paste, and basil. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes ’til fennel is tender. Add the sardines and simmer a few more minutes.
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup fine homemade breadcrumbs
Heat oil, and add crumbs and heat until golden brown. Pour sauce over the pasta, then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
Traditional St. Josephs Reading
Sermon 2, On St Joseph
By St. Bernardine of Siena
This is the general rule that applies to all individual graces given to a rational creature. Whenever divine grace selects someone to receive a particular grace, or some especially favoured position, all the gifts for his state are given to that person, and. enrich him abundantly.
This is especially true of that holy man Joseph, the supposed father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and true husband of the queen of the world and of the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father to be the faithful foster-parent and guardian of the most precious treasures of God, his Son and his spouse. This was the task which he so faithfully carried out. For this, the Lord said to him, “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”
A comparison can be made between Joseph and the whole Church of Christ. Joseph was the specially chosen man through whom and under whom Christ entered the world fittingly and in an appropriate way. So, if the whole Church is in the debt of the Virgin Mary, since, through her, it was able to receive the Christ, surely after her, it also owes to Joseph special thanks and veneration.
For he it is who marks the closing of the old testament. In him the dignity of the prophets and patriarchs achieves its promised fulfilment. Moreover; he alone possessed in the flesh what God in his goodness promised to them over and again.
It is beyond doubt that Christ did not deny to Joseph in heaven that intimacy, respect, and high honour which he showed to him as to a father during his own human life, but rather completed and perfected it. Justifiably the words of the Lord should be applied to him, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Although it is the joy of eternal happiness that comes into the heart of man, the Lord prefers to say to him “enter into joy”. The mystical implication is that this joy is not just inside man, but surrounds him everywhere and absorbs him, as if he were plunged in an infinite abyss.
Therefore be mindful of us, blessed Joseph, and intercede for us with Him Whom men thought to be your Son. Win for us the favour of the most Blessed Virgin your spouse, the mother of Him Who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit through ages unending. Amen.