I’ve been seeing all these posts about a St. Joseph novena. As an unchurched heathen, I’m utterly clueless. On top of that, I’m not Italian so I literally have no idea what any of this is about.
And yes Joey, before you say it, I GOOGLED IT. But Google isn’t very enlightening sometimes. Sure, it gives me dates and tells me who St. Joseph is, and something about “a feast of the rank of double of the first class” (???) but it doesn’t actually explain much.
Is it a women only thing? Most of the pictures I see seem to feature only women.
Why the feast in the first place?
Why do you build a giant altar and make special pasta?
Novena trolley…I’m picturing a trolley car picking up novena-ers. Is that what it is? Like a Christmas Caroller trolley, but in Italian?
Inquiring minds want to know.
The Novena trolley was organized by Sefathia and the first one I went on was I think 4 years ago. Cape Ann Transportation CATA offers the trolley up and it picks everyone up at the Fitz Henry Lane House and they make the rounds and go to about 12 different people’s homes who have St Joseph’s Novenas and Altars. Men and women and children can go on the trolley but it’s mostly women.
The tradition of St Joseph’s Day as I understand it is that it was a day back in Sicily when people would open up their doors to the orphans and feed them and the symbolism in today’s St Joseph’s Day is that you say that your doors are always open to feed those in need.
They pass out three items at each house, an orange, a lemon and a loaf of bread. The orange symbolizes the sweetness of life, the lemon so you don’t forget the hard times and the bread to say that you’ll never go hungry in that house. (I could be a little off on any of these things but this is how I understand it all)
The altars are a tradition usually started by a family who wants to pray for a specific thing.
Like say way back in the 50’s a fisherman may have been out at sea and the boat was overdue. The wife may have started an altar to ask St Joseph to return him to her and she would maintain her altar and pray each St Joseph’s Day. Or it may have been to pray for a sick person. Or a host of other reasons.
The women start out saying the Rosary together and then sing Sicilian songs all together. Usually they have lots of books so you can read along and before long you get the cadence and words and you’re singing right along with them.
Some houses are open to let everyone in, some may keep them more to their family. Most I believe welcome everyone of any denomination in to celebrate.
This year we saw a huge increase in the number of younger women participating which is nice because for a long while St Joseph’s started to wane off. It’s great to see so many taking it up again. It may or may not have had anything to do with the intense coverage we devote to it each year here on GMG but the heavy lifting is done by the families of those who maintain the altars and invite so many guests into their homes.
Most of the men are in the kitchen eating BTW, LOL.
I’m not 100% sure I got everything right but I hope this answers most of your questions.
You should watch +Kim Smith videos, if a picture tells a thousand words, her videos will tell a million.
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