La Tavola di San Giuseppe

May 15, 2019

With St. Joseph the Worker’s feast day recently occurring on May 1st, we invite you to take a look back at a wonderful tradition celebrated on the March feast of this great saint.

Every year around March 19th, many parishes celebrate the tradition of St. Joseph’s Table. Perhaps your own parish or one near you hosts this event in honor of the foster-father of Our Lord, which usually entails preparing a beautiful table of special dishes and treats arranged before a statue or image of St. Joseph. The Table has its origins in Sicily in the Middle Ages, when, according to legend, a great famine struck the land and the people prayed to St. Joseph for relief, promising a special celebration in his honor in return. When the rains came, the people prepared tables of food in thanksgiving, and la tavola di San Giuseppe became an annual celebration. Held at the time of St. Joseph’s Day, the centerpiece of the festival is a table of beautiful pastries and breads to be shared with one’s family and friends, strangers and the poor. The offerings are not only tasty but are also rich with meaning, such as the breads which might be shaped like St. Joseph’s staff or a crown of thorns. The table traditionally lacks any meat dishes in commemoration of the season of Lent during which St. Joseph’s Day falls. Often included in the festivities is the “Tupa Tupa” tradition (see photo above from FSSP Chesapeake), in which children re-enact Joseph and Mary’s search for food and shelter in Bethlehem and are welcomed to the Table as the guests of honor.

The mission of San Juan Capistrano

The tradition of honoring St. Joseph in a special way on his feast day is, of course, not only an Italian tradition; different countries have their own traditions in honor of this great saint, including our very own United States! While the US has also adopted the traditions of its immigrant nations, something unique to our side of the pond is the combined celebration of St. Joseph’s feast and the return of the swallows to the mission church of San Juan Capistrano, California. The celebration was started by one of the pastors of the mission, which is a favorite nesting spot of the swallows and holds the festival every year on St. Joseph’s Day (from what we can gather, the Table is included as part of the celebrations). Incidentally, St. John of Capistrano’s feast day falls nearby, on March 28th!

Perhaps St. Joseph’s Table is a tradition you’d like to start in your own homes and parishes. Here is some inspiration from those in the FSSP community who celebrate this beautiful tradition. +

Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary

Denton, Nebraska

 

FSSP Dallas

Mater Dei Parish

 

FSSP Chesapeake

Take a great tradition and multiply it by 3! FSSP Chesapeake celebrates the Table by way of a “Triduum of Feasts” that includes St. Joseph, St. Patrick and their patron, St. Benedict.

 

FSSP Houston

Regina Caeli Parish