Saints alive! Well, not exactly, although I do believe there are some saintly people that walk among us; unfortunately they are not running for office. I refer to St. Patrick and St. Joseph, whose feasts we celebrate this week and not only the religious aspect of the feasts.
We started celebrating St. Patrick last weekend and will continue through this weekend although the actual day is Thursday, March 17 (which also happens to be the birthday of Riverside resident Dave Newman). The date is believed to be the date of St. Patrick’s death. It is both a religious and cultural feast.
Patrick was 5th century Roman-British Christian missionary. Much of what is known comes from “Declaration” a book written by Patrick, which tells how he was kidnapped at 16 by Irish raiders and became a slave to Gaelic Ireland. He is believed to have converted many pagans.
Celebrations come in the way of parades and parties. Check out St. Mary Parish in Riverside for their big party this Saturday, a fundraiser for the school. Everybody who is Irish or temporarily Irish will be seen “wearing the green.”
They also will be sporting shamrocks, a symbol of good luck and the Trinity. There will be plenty of corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes and soda bread to eat and Guinness to drink. Aunt Diana’s even has chocolate shamrocks.
Reminder, for those who gave up any of the above during Lent, don’t forget to get a dispensation. Irish Times in Brookfield and Mollie’s in Riverside are also ready to celebrate.
On March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, wear red. In honor of the husband of Mary, this also is a cultural and religious feast. It began in Sicily following a famine. The people prayed to St. Joseph for good crops and, bada-bing, it happened.
The people made a promise on every St. Joseph Day to make an annual offering of food for the hungry. A traditional St. Joseph table contains meatless meals, breads and pastries. Go to Vesuvio’s Bakery in North Riverside for the best zeppole, also known as a St. Joseph cake.
The food is typically blessed by a priest and tables will often include a statue of the saint, a stalk of lily blossoms, a votive candle, stalk of wheat, breads in various shapes and fava beans.
I suggest wine with this meal, Chianti maybe. People will leave with some fava beans for good luck and a small loaf of bread so the family will never starve.
Celebrate good times, but do it wisely.