Annual St Joseph Table at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church
The Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated in a variety of ways all over the world. The most well-known tradition is the St. Joseph Table or St. Joseph Altar, which began in Sicily.
Trailing St. Patrick’s Day comes the traditional feast day of St. Joseph. In America we do little or nothing to honor the foster father of Jesus, but in Italy and especially in Sicily this is one of the great holidays. St. Joseph has been chosen the patron and protector of the family; and our families certainly need all the support available in this crazy world.
In Sicily, the citizens love St. Joseph Day. The wealthy prepare a great buffet dinner. There are traditional dishes served, all of them meatless. And who are the guests? Who are the lucky ones to enjoy all this food? They are the ones whom St. Joseph would invite: the poor, the unfortunate, the homeless, and anyone wanted a place to eat, visit and feel welcomed.
Sometimes, as with our parish, the celebration is a cooperative village effort. In Sicily, the mayor and his staff set up the buffet tables in the open public square opposite the cathedral. Wealthy families contribute the food. Everyone is welcome to share in the feast which rich and poor receive the blessing of St. Joseph and his blessed food.
In Sicily, the dinner begins with a play in which the “Holy Family” take the leading roles.
In our parish we have not yet managed such a big celebration in honor of St. Joseph, but it is indeed a community event, with contributions from the parish, local restaurants, grocery stores and other shopkeepers.
We served over 300 last night–everyone left with a smile on their face and full bellies.