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I interviewed a friend of mine who prefers to stay anonymous during this interview, however he will explain to us his activities during St. Joseph’s day. My friend lives in New Orleans which has a high volume Italian community, therefore many of them take part in St. Joseph’s day activities.

Q: Tell me the first thing you do in the morning on St. Joseph’s day?

A: I wake up, brush my teeth, put on my stretchy pants and start eating

 

Q:What are some of the events that take place on this day?

A:Well, many people go to church and attend mass, and then food is placed in front of the alter for people to eat. In New Orleans we also have organizations that make big feasts and give food out to the less fortunate people of the city who cannot afford to make a feast on St. Joseph’s Day. Then there is an annual St. Joseph’s Day parade in New Orleans where many different ethnic organizations perform during the parade. It’s a must-do event in New Orleans during this time of year.

 

Q: Where does the parade take place

A: Around the French Quarter in New Orleans.

 

Q: Do only Italians come to this parade?

A: Definately not, all different nationalities and ethnicities come to see the parade, just to have fun and learn about the Italian culture and traditions of New Orleans.

 

Q: What did you eat on St. Josephs Day?

A: Well [sigh], are you ready to make a list? [laughs] Some Cardoni[a celery like vegetable that is served as antipasto] and Fava Beans, Pasta Milanese [pasta with thick red sauce], Bacala [salty dried codfish], Pasta con Sardi [pasta with real sardines], about 50 zappole [laughs], and some other cakes and cookies along the way. Good thing I wore my stretchy pants.

 

Q:What do you love most about St. Joseph’s Day?

A: I love spending time with family and friends, being Italian I grew up knowing that food and family are the two most important factors in having a good time, so I guess just having that feeling of togetherness that is lost over the course of the year, is a good feeling on St. Joseph’s Day. And I also really love the feeling of helping people in need on this day, and helping the less fortunate have a nice home cooked meal.

 

A small Italian bakery on the north end of Chicago known as Il Giardino Del Dolce, overflows with customers today, March 19, which is St. Joseph’s day, a holiday which involves eating many traditional Italian pastries, most popularly the Italian zappole which is this bakery’s specialty. The bakery was overflowing with people by 10 am on the morning of St. Joseph’s day, with people of all nationalities. This bakery makes over 5,000 zappole (a traditional Italian fried dough) for St. Joseph’s day every year. The women behind the counter were running back and forth trying to accommodate all the customers, as they were all chattering in different languages including Italian, Spanish, Polish, and  English. This very culturally diverse environment created a union of traditional beliefs among many different people which created a very positive atmosphere. St. Joseph’s day brought together a group of people which would otherwise probably not unite in this manor, everyone was happy and excited to spend time with their families and feast all day.

St. Joseph’s day is usually celebrated two days after St. Patrick’s day, where for St. Patty’s day everyone overloads their bodies with alcohol, and St. Joseph’s day is the opposite, everyone overloads their bodies with food. People who celebrate St. Joseph’s day usually prepare a huge feast usually including minestrone, pasta, seafood, and fava beans. Fava beans are a big symbol of St. Joseph’s day because it was a crop that saved the people from starvation during the famine of the Middle Ages. Also for those who attend mass, afterwards food is served to all who are needy. The tradition is to wear the color red on St. Joseph’s day as the color green is worn for St. Patrick’s Day. St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of pastry chefs, therefore sweets are very important on this day, especially the Italian pastry known as the zeppola. Traditionally people go to mass and place a variety of symbolic items on the Alter, including flowers, cakes, sweets, fava beans, zeppoli, limes, wine, and candles. In America, usually parades are held in honor of the holiday.

St. Joseph’s day, also known as The Feast of St. Joseph, is a holiday which arose within most western Christian communities, however has very strong roots in the Italy. St. Joseph’s day is celebrated on March 19, however in recent years, the holiday is moved if it falls during holy week. St. Joseph was the spouse of the Virgin Mary, and the feast is prepared every year in his honor. The holiday was recorded in most Western calenders by the tenth century, Italy being one of the first to adapt it in 1479. The Legend has it that this holiday began when there was a long drought in Sicily during the Middle Ages, and the people prayed to their St. Joseph promising that if he brought them rain they would prepare a feast in his honor. Sure enough it rained, and they prepared a feast in his honor. They honor him for preventing famine in Italy during those dark times.

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