Thousands of cookies, pastries, various dishes, and fruits were prepped for this year’s Saint Joseph’s Day Celebration, an age-old Italian tradition. To create such elaborate displays required weeks of preparation and work. But the result? A grand, massive display of food to honor the most beloved saint among Italian-Americans.
The celebration is in honor of Saint Joseph, the Patron Saint of Workers and legal father of Jesus. Centuries ago, a famine and drought in Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island located off the coast of Italy, prompted peasants to pray to God through Saint Joseph, for rain. As their prayers were answered, the Sicilians honored God and Saint Joseph with a feast. This celebration became tradition.
That feast is now celebrated March 19 every year.
The ancient tradition is continued on in the Historic Northeast by three Catholic churches: Holy Rosary Parish (910 Pacific Avenue), St. Anthony Catholic Church (309 Benton Blvd.), and Holy Cross Catholic Church (5106 St. John Avenue).
Rows of tables hold cookies, fruits, pastries, fish, flowers, crosses, and statues. The “steps” displayed on some tables symbolize the ascent from earth to heaven, usually topped with a statue of Saint Joseph.
Holy Rosary Parish held a Blessing of the Table at 4pm Monday, March 18, followed by Mass at 10 a.m. Tuesday and a pasta dinner. St. Anthony Catholic Church held a viewing of the table Monday, March 18, and Mass on Tuesday, the 19th, including a pasta milanese dinner. Italian cookies, cannoli, and sphingi were also available.