Feast of Saint Giuseppe in Florence
It’s all happening in Florence as Christmas celebrations are barely over and further plans are being made for more festive events in this Italian city. What with the Viareggio Carnival, and the Gourmet Chocolate Fair visitors to Florence are truly being spoilt. And that’s not all because there are further celebrations lined up and this includes the Feast Day of Saint Giuseppe taking place on the 19th of March.
Held every year, Feast Day of Saint Giuseppe (St Joseph’s Day) celebrated on March the 19th is an opportunity to sample some of the region’s culinary delights and traditions. The story goes that during the Middle Ages in Italy a terrible drought and famine plagued the people of Sicily. It virtually destroyed most of their crops and many people in the western part of Sicily died of starvation. The people began praying to St. Joseph and begged for his intercession to their plight. In return they promised to celebrate his feast day by having special altars abundant in food that would be shared with all people rich and poor as their thanksgiving to him.
At midnight on March 19th the prayers of Sicily’s children were answered. The rains came and the land which had been browned and barren were now lush and green again. Sicily’s people has kept their promise to San Giuseppe through the generations by preparing elaborate food altars. In Sicily olive branches hung over doorways signify that a St. Joseph Altar is being held.
Thus, today so as to pay tribute to this great man the Contrada dell’Onda district in Siena becomes populated by stalls, and visitors can look forward to a range of tournaments, a carnival-style parade and a donkey race in the town to mark the occasion, in addition to pageants and bonfires in some places.
Upon a typical San Giuseppe’s altar people place many different types of seafood (fried shrimp, calamari, vegetables of all kinds that will be either stuffed, fried, or parts of an omlette.), in addition to italian omlettes (frittatas) with vegetables like artichokes, cardoons (burdock), asparagus, broccoli, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and beans. Finally, lace flowers, limes, and candles, wine, specially prepared cakes, breads, and cookies (as well as other meatless dishes), grace the table as well as dried fava beans as a reminder of the great drought and the crop which saved the population from starvation.
Anyone with a sweet tooth may want to try zeppole, a pastry traditionally eaten on St Joseph’s Day which is flavoured with honey, cinnamon and vanilla.
So, those of you who fancy a little venture out of Florence and some traditional Italian fun then this is the event for you.
Anna – Marketing Team