St. Joseph’s Table
Today is the feast of St. Joseph in the Catholic religion - celebrated on March 19th every year.
It commemorates the life of St. Joseph, the step-father of Jesus and husband of the Virgin Mary. March 19th is believed to be Joseph’s birthday.
St. Joseph was known as the protector of the Holy Family and during a famine in Sicily, when food was scarce and many people were starving, they prayed for St. Joseph to somehow help so they could have successful crops. Their prayers were answered and the famine came to an end. To show their gratitude, people promised to make annual offerings of their most precious possession – food – in honor of St. Joseph.
Today, many restaurants, churches and even private homes offer "St. Joseph’s Tables" often with meatless dishes like stuffed artichokes, pasta and fish, as well as breads, cookies, pastries, cakes and other baked goods. Each table is blessed by a priest and there’s always a statue of St. Joseph. Lily blossoms, candles and a lace tablecloth are some of the other items used to decorate the table.
When you visit a St. Joseph's table, one tradition is to give guests gifts of fava beans and breads. Fava beans was the food that saved the Sicilians from starvation. It a gift of good luck and it’s believed that if St. Joseph's bread is kept in the home, the family will never starve.
In many countries, St. Joseph’s Day is a national holiday.