I’m something of a mutt when it comes to my heritage. I’m Polish, German, Irish, and Italian, but I’m mostly American, and so my heritage isn’t a huge part of my life most of the time. One weekend a year though, my Italian and Irish sides duke it out, and I celebrate St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day. My sisters come down on the Italian side with St. Joseph, but for me it’s all about blarney and bagpipes, because I think St. Patrick’s Day is just more fun. I don’t even drink green beer, and I still love it more than St. Joseph’s Lenten feast. They’re both important though, and I get a big kick out of both celebrations.
I spent St. Patrick’s Day listening to Flogging Molly and Kate Rusby, and watching The Boondock Saints (such a good movie! I had seen it before, but it’s good every time). We did the delicious boiled dinner and soda bread thing last week, but I still felt like the holiday was fully observed. Sunday was the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and my (very patient) sister Lillian went with me, despite her lack of interest in giant drunken crowds and dogs dressed like leprechauns. It was unseasonably warm, so everyone came out for the parade, and it was a mob scene. You know you’re in a big crowd when you can’t hear the bagpipes being played ten feet away from you over the general din. There were Irish dancers though, and people carrying shaleighleighs, and drunk girls wandering into the path of the parade, so it was a productive outing in my book. There were gingers every whichway you turned, and as much as I love red hair, I’ve got to admit that it isn’t a universally attractive look. I did see a few cute ones though, and some of them looked like they probably play rugby, which is essentially my “type” if I had just one type. Sort of like Prince Harry.
Mmm…that’s the stuff.
After the parade we went home, and relatives started showing up for St. Joseph’s Table. We’ve been hosting St. Joseph’s for a few years now, but when I was a little kid we used to have it in a church basement. My sisters, cousins and I would wander around and ignore out pasta con sarde, but there were always ice cream sandwiches for dessert, which we’ve incorporated into our family tradition. The basic idea behind the holiday is that a long time ago in Sicily they were having a drought, and prayed to St. Joseph for rain, and when the drought ended they had a feast in his honor. Because it’s a Lenten feast there isn’t any meat, so it’s a meal of lentil soup, artichoke hearts, pasta con sarde, fried fish, fennel, and omelets.
St. Joseph is also the patron saint of pastry chefs, so there are great desserts (even though it’s Lent. There’s always a lot of fruit on the table for the people who are abstaining from sweets). We have the very traditional ice cream sandwiches, and my aunts make cannoli, and sfingi (Italian doughnuts. They’re like cream puffs, but without the cream).
(This year as a special treat my Aunt Grace made me a car cake to celebrate getting my license, but sadly, I didn’t get a picture.) All in all, St. Joseph’s is a great low-key holiday to tide us over until Easter. People gather together and eat, and it’s a nice time. My older sister has been continuing the tradition for several years now since she can’t get home to celebrate with our family, and I’m planning on doing it next year too. I think I might have to put my own spin on things though, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if corned beef and cabbage found its way onto the table, next to the asparagus omelet, bringing my Irish and Italian sides together.