style="background: url(http://thecutestblogontheblock.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/bit-of-blooms.jpg) center top fixed no-repeat !important;">

Monday, March 15, 2010

"I" is for a cherished tradition!

Welcome to another letter assignment from Mrs. Matlock at Alphabe-Thursday. Our current lesson is on the letter "I" which touches my heart in many ways. I'm Sicilian (Italian) and I was raised in a close-knit Italian family in a close-knit Italian community in Rockford, IL. I went to the same Catholic elementary school as my mother, and my entire Italian family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc.) attended the same Catholic church which was the hub of the beloved Italian community.The letter "I" happens to coincide with an Italian tradition that is celebrated every March 19! The patron saint of Sicily is St. Joseph (San Giuseppe) who is honored every March 19. Celebrating St. Joseph's Day goes back to the Middle Ages when Sicily was in the middle of a severe drought. The Italian people prayed to God through St. Joseph asking for rain so that the crops could be planted. The rain did come and the people promised to have a feast (festa) to show their gratitude for a successful planting season.
As a child I remember going to several tables/altars honoring St. Joseph. There was much celebrating with tons of traditional Italian foods placed on three tiers of tables which was symbolic of the Holy Trinity. A statue of St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus was placed on one table along with lighted votive candles, vases of wheat, flowers, breads and sweets. No meats were ever prepared or served because St. Joseph's day falls in the middle of the Lenten season. Many of the vegetable dishes were prepared with bread crumbs symbolizing the sawdust of St. Joseph's profession.
There is a story in our family that tells of my Uncle Pat, who was always a timid little boy, wanting to go visit St. Joseph altars with some family friends. My grandparents agreed to let him go as long as he kept up with the rest of the group. Apparently everyone was having a wonderful time at the altars and somehow my uncle was separated from the main group. He wasn't worried as he could follow other groups visiting altars he hadn't seen yet. Unfortunately he followed a group that went into a house that was having a wake for a loved one instead of an altar celebration! Back then the Italians kept the body of their deceased relative in the home until the day of the burial! Needless to say my uncle was a bit freaked out by the whole thing and didn't visit another altar until early adulthood. Here is a vintage photo of my Uncle Pat (as an adult) standing in front of a St. Joseph altar.
My daughter was born on March 19, and the first words out of my mother's mouth were, "She was born on St. Joseph's Day, how nice"!

I hope you all enjoyed this Italian cultural lesson and please visit other participants here.

This is linked back to Alphabe-Thursday for the letter "I".

24 comments:

justagirl said...

Great post! Love the story of your uncle!

Karen said...

And the swallows return to Capistrano. And Bruce Willis was born that day, too.

Connie said...

Thank you for the sweet compliment on the tassel, sugar, and I hope you win too! Nice to meet ya, sweet chick.
xoxo,
Connie
;-)

Debbie said...

That was very informative!~ Being Of ItaLian decent myself, I even learned something new!!~

Red Couch Recipes said...

I have been to Rockford, Illinois many times. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. I love to hear of stories of family, community, and church. There once was a vibrant community in Madison called the Bush. I have my mother's cookbook of the women recalling their fond memories of living in the Bush. Your post reminds me of that book. Just lovely. Joni

Linda said...

Great post, love the Italian lesson!

Viki said...

Very interesting. LOL about your uncle ending up at the wake. Great family story.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

Now why didn't I think of Italy? We lived in Sicily from 1968-71. In fact, my two oldest were born in Naples. My husband was in the Navy and we loved it over there. Very interesting post. I did not know about the St. Joseph's altar until last week when someone here was talking about the altar their family prepares every year.

Steph said...

I have enjoyed the cultural lesson and the old family photos & stories. I also like imagining the close-knit community you grew up in.

My name is PJ. said...

First of all, Happy Birthday to your daughter tomorrow!!

This was interesting and educational. I was sure someone would choose something Italian; I had no idea I'd learn something new.

The story about your uncle was wonderful too.

mbkatc230 said...

What a fun, interesting post. Love your family memories and the old photos! Your poor Uncle, I bet he never forgot that day :) Kathy

Sh@KiR@ CK said...

Great post and I can relate to your last line. my eldest and youngest were born on " traditionally auspicious " day, I was told by my mom that God loves me but HE LOVES MY DAUGHTERS MORE.Ouch!

Here from Jingle!
Welcome to the Rally!

Happy Thursday!

Did you know that I am now hosting a new meme? Find out more Blog of the Week Please join us for the WEEKEND FUNNIES. Week #2 is this Friday to Sunday (March 26-29). See you there? hugs shakira Oscar Wilde-The IRISH Gentleman ART OF GENEROSITY

UNSPOKEN BREAKFAST FOR THE SOUL

jeff campbell said...

Such a nifty "I" theme...makes me want a Gelato:-) Thanks for visiting my Insect blog and your very nice comments...Ciao!

MrsJenB said...

What a great post! I love learning about cultural traditions like this, especially as they pertain to religion because there are sooo many, going back so many years. It's beautiful.

Jenny said...

What a fascinating I post!

I really enjoyed the Italian lesson and the story of your Uncle!

A+

Amy said...

Very interesting!

Jo said...

Thank you for the Italian lesson! I love learning something new every day!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Thanks for the intro. to a wonderful day to celebrate.

Melinda Cornish said...

what a great story and a tribute to your heritage...your poor Uncle.....I can just imagine his reaction!

GardenofDaisies said...

Loved your post about St Joseph's day. And your poor uncle!! :-)

mub said...

This is so interesting! I am not Catholic and don't know much about the traditions involving saints so I really enjoy reading about them. Thanks so much for sharing =)

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Love seeing your photos and the stories relating. Happy St. Joseph's Day!

Blessings & Aloha!
(I am running a wee bit behind! but glad that I am able to stop by!) Have a wonderful week...

Christy said...

thank you for directing me here! what a great post...i love to hear about your tradition and i love that you told the story of st. joseph. always great to meet a paisano.

Sarah said...

Great post for the letter I. Thanks for sharing this information. Enjoyed the story about your uncle. Sorry I'm so late to visit. Life has been zooming by of late.