Sunday, March 22, 2009

St. Joseph's Altar - Donaldsonville, LA

Today I attended the St. Joseph's Altar celebration in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. This celebration started in Sicily to honor St. Joseph for prayers answered. Here is a link to a little of the history. This tradition has been going on for many years in Donaldsonville - always at the Ascension Catholic Church Hall. A reenactment of the search by Joseph and Mary to find a place for Jesus to be born starts the celebration. People are then allowed in to view the altar. The altar remains until the end of the day when the food is distributed. Spaghetti sauce cooked with boiled eggs is served. Boiled eggs rather than meat are used in the sauce because it is during Lent (the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday). There was lots of food, a band and a large number of people attending.

My grandmother Fontana was a big supporter of this tradition and made beautiful creations from dough and fig preserves. The preserves were made from fresh figs picked from her trees, the dough from scratch. The creations were made into different shapes (sort of like a pie) and she hand carved design on the top of all of them. She didn't have access to special tools so she created her own for the carving.

Here are some pictures from the celebration today.

You can see the large variety of food represented. Many of the recipes are italian recipes particularly for the cookies and breads are handed down through generations.

There is also a representation of local cuisine (crawfish, crabs and shrimp)

This rosary was displayed near the altar and made entirely of chocolate.
Everyone is allowed to take these bags as a treat.
The bags always contain traditional Italian cookies, a piece of Italian bread, a card with the prayer to St. Joseph on it and a bean for luck. The bean is the green item on the bottom right of the picture. I always remember my mom and grandmother having this bean in their purses.

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