2014 Virtual San Giuseppe Altar
Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the tradition that is celebrated in many parts of the USA as well as Italia, let me explain. We need to go back to the Middle Ages, when the island of Sicily was suffering from a very severe drought. It reached the point that there was almost nothing left to eat but fava beans. In short, a famine.
So the people of Sicily began praying to San Giuseppe, begging him to intercede with God for an end to the drought. (As I type this I can help but think that maybe there is a lesson for California here.) San Giuseppe came through & the drought ended. Crops were planted & the famine ended.
Naturally, the Sicilians were grateful to San Giuseppe & wanted to express their thanks in a visible way. So a table was set up with the fruits of the harvest on it. After they had done so, the food was distributed to the less fortunate.
From that simple table, the altar grew & developed into what it is today.
They can range from the simple
to the ornate,
but certain things remain the same.
The 1st is that the altar must be made with 3 levels. This is done to honor the Holy Trinity.
On the top level a image of San Giuseppe is placed. This can be a statue or a painting or an icon. It is surrounded by flowers & greenery. Votive candles can be placed there as well as on the other levels.
On the other levels a variety of food, with the exception of meat dishes because it is Lent, are placed on the other levels. These offerings include citrus fruit, breads, pastries, seafood, olives, grapes, fava beans, & figs. In addition you will find bread crumbs sprinkled about as a reminder of the sawdust in San Giuseppe's carpenter's shop.
Now the breads & many of the pastries are baked in special shapes. The breads can be shaped as lilies, sandals, ladder, saw, hammer, nail, beard, ladder, & the cane or staff of St. Joseph. The pastries are made in the shapes of monstrances, chalices, crosses, doves, lambs, fish, bibles, hearts, wreaths & palms.
Labels: St. Joseph (San Giuseppe)