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Sicilian Custom Of The St. Joseph Altar

According to Italian history, Sicily once experienced complete loss of all their crops except for fava beans and these beans were given credit of keeping the Sicilians from starving. Because of this, thanks were given to St. Joseph and now fava beans have become a traditional decoration on St. Joseph‘s Day altars in many Italian communities.

A group of people is selected from poor families and orphans to represent the Holy Family.

The Holy Family and Angels take their place at the table, with St. Joseph sitting at the head facing the altar, alongside him is his staff made of bread.

After the Holy Family is seated, the priest enters and blesses all before him. First, one segment of orange is served to each at the table followed by lentil soup, spaghetti Milanese, Fish, frittata, artichokes, olives, pickles, salads, cheese, eggs, vegetables, fruits, cookies of every kind, breads in many shapes and styles. Finally, almonds, confetti with liqueur, wines and milk are served at the end of the feast by the Holy Family.

Now the guests, who have been praying and singing religious songs, are invited to eat.

After many centuries, St. Joseph Altar still serves as a reminder that those who have enjoyed some measure of good fortune must share it with those who have less.

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