This year's altar…...
St. Joseph Table is an old tradition from Sicily. Saint Joseph is one of the most beloved saints among Italian-Americans. As the patron of workers and the protector of the family, he is honored with a feast on March 19.
According to legend, there was a famine in Sicily many centuries ago. The villagers prayed to St. Joseph, foster-father of the Infant Savior, and asked his intercession before the throne of God. Their prayers were answered. With the ending of the dreadful famine, a special feast of thanksgiving was held in commemoration of the Saint. This celebration became tradition.
Much symbolism is contained in the shape and decoration of St. Joseph's Table. The "steps" represent the ascent from earth to heaven. On the topmost step is a statue of St. Joseph or a picture of the Holy Family. White linen tablecloths cover the table. Vigil lights of green, brown and deep yellow, representing St. Joseph's attire, are profusely placed. Palms placed nearby and around the room, as well as lily plants and white carnations give the table softness and the scents together with incense used in the opening of the ceremony are suggestive of the fragrance of heaven and the sweetness of salvation. The food dishes represent the harvest, the created beauties of the world. Breads are baked in shapes of a staff, a carpenter's implement.
Francesca taught us her secret breading recipe for the cardoons.
Vancy made sure we learned the technique for perfect frying of the cardoons.
In between frying the cardoons, baccala and preparing pasta the men enjoyed homemade wine.
Of course once the prep was done we all got to taste the fruit of our labors.
Sadly, I don't have a picture of the beautiful reception hall as it appeared today with red linen table clothes and over 200 people enjoying the feast. I was far too busy serving to take any pictures! However, if any come my way in the near future, I will update this post.