Celebrate St. Joseph's Day | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 19, 2007

Celebrate St. Joseph's Day

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2007 at 9:56 AM

Someone forwarded a note UALR law prof John DiPippa is circulating today.

Today is St. Joseph’s Day. St. Joseph is the patron saint of Italy and it’s actually a much bigger deal than that other saint’s day where everybody wears green.

Italians celebrate St. Joseph’s day in two ways: with special foods (usually something sweet) and community acts of charity to alleviate hunger. (The intervention of St. Joseph is reputed to have delivered the Sicilians from famine.)

So, first, in the break room, I have a loaf of home-made St. Joseph’s bread. It’s a sweet bread with fennel seeds. Help yourself. Second, I am making a contribution to the Arkansas Rice Depot in honor of St. Joseph and I'll  happily accept any other contributions.

I take judicial notice because of warm memories of my hometown, Lake Charles, La., which had a large population of Sicilian-Americans, many of whom built elaborate St. Joseph's Day  altars at their homes. Friends visited the altars and feasted on vats of food bubbling inside the homes (from stuffed artichokes to Cajun dirty rice and potato salad), but the publicly displayed altars were a means to gather food to take to the needy, along with other contributions. The Tremonte family opened their old Railroad Avenue bakery once a year to make hundreds of loaves of braided St. Joseph's bread, a sweet, soft loaf that we bought in bulk for our freezer (along with the fennel-scented sausage the Italian grocers nearby produced). Happy memories. Good people. Good causes. Good food.

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