Monday, March 19, 2012

New Orleans Folklore, Tradition, Style

Just a quick note about St. Joseph's Day in New Orleans...Sicilian Tradition in New Orleans:

Every March in  New Orleans, classified ads begin to appear in local papers from devout Catholics inviting the public at large to view their St. Joseph's Day altars.

 Altars can be anything from humble affairs, to elaborate arrays worthy of a top-flight caterer. Food from these altars is traditionally given away to the needy. 

Every year on March 19, thousands of locals and out-of-towners come to homes in New Orleans to enjoy the St. Joseph’s Day altars. 

Altars are displays constructed by Catholics to honor St. Joseph, whom they credit for sending rain to save the starving people of Sicily from a severe drought during the Middle Ages.

According to tradition, Sicily once experienced a failure of all crops other than  beans; the beans kept the population from starvation, and thanks were given to Saint Joseph. Broad beans subsequently became traditional on Saint Joseph's Day altars in many Italian communities. 

Some people carry a broad bean for good luck; some believe that if one carries a broad bean, one will never be without the essentials of life.

Thankful Sicilians offered their finest crops to feed the poor, a display of food and faith that continues today. Candles, religious figures, cakes, cookies, tarts, breads, memorials...
This delicious and beautiful custom, La Tavola di San Giuseppe, came to New Orleans in the 1800s as immigrants formed what is still the largest Sicilian population in the United States.

Elaborate displays, simple displays...our designs hold on to so much history for us!
Have a great day!

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