Flavors of yesteryear on tables set with every good thing.
In Santa Croce Camerina, in the province of Ragusa, this is how the feast of St. Joseph is celebrated. This ancient festival is characterized by a large procession, the preparation of traditional dinners, and participation in numerous performances.
St. Joseph’s“dinners” are an important moment for the community according to an ancient tradition that dates back to 1832, when Baron Guglielmo Vitale left the income of three vineyards to the Mother Church to solemnize the feast of the Patriarch. Since then, the faithful have been gathering to prepare large tables, where traditional local dishes are offered.
The atmosphere of St. Joseph’s dinners is magical and engaging.
On a colorful blanket, which frames the table, bitter oranges and lemons stare. In the center, a small altar is arranged with a picture depicting the Holy Family, in front of which an oil lamp “a lampa” is lit and at the sides “u lauri,” wheat sprouted in the dark.
The table is set simply, but with great care and attention to detail.
There are characteristic dishes such as “codfish,” “rice balls,” “asparagus omelets,” spinach and raisin “pastizzi,” various kinds of cookies and sweets such as “cubaita,” “nougat,” “scaurati,” “cicirieddi,” “mastazzola,” and “mustata,” early vegetable and fragrant flowers such as “fresia and balicu.”
The main element of the table is St. Joseph’s Bread, also known as“pani pulitu,” of different and special symbolic shapes, crafted and decorated by skilled and experienced hands.
This bread is so important that it became part of the intangible assets of the Region of Sicily by Decree No. 8184 of November 4, 2005.
There is also no shortage of the typical St. Joseph’s pasta, called“a principissedda.” This is a pasta dish, usually “mezze maniche,” seasoned with tomato sauce, salt cod, wild fennel and chili pepper. St. Joseph’s dough is served to the three saints, namely St. Joseph, Our Lady and the Infant Jesus.
St. Joseph’s dinners are a time of celebration and devotion, but also of sharing and solidarity. In fact, many believers prepare typical dishes to offer them to the less fortunate, as a sign of generosity and love for others.
The city administration, together with citizens, associations and the faithful, has been working to ensure the success of the events, which will take place March 17-20.
The celebration will kick off on Friday, March 17, with the opening of theart exhibition on Rinzivillo Street, which will feature a display of statues, vegetables and flowers.
The“St. Joseph’s Festival” will also be inaugurated in Celestri Square, where it will be possible to taste the typical dishes of traditional St. Joseph’s“Dinners,” such as principissedda, fried codfish, rice balls and embroidered bread, by Glocal.
It will also be possible to attend the cabaret show with Sasà Salvaggio, which will be followed by “Voci Santacrocesi.”
From Saturday, March 18, the free “Visit Santacroce” service will be active to visit the “Demological Museum” and the “Comic Book Museum.”
It will also be possible to take advantage of the guided tour service for “Dinners” in the village and visit“The Glimpse of the Passamano.” The evening will be graced by the concert of Bianca Atzei, which will be followed by the show“Artisti Mattonacci Record.”
On Sunday, March 19, the traditional“St. Joseph’s Auction” will be held in Vittorio Emanuele Square and the display of Fiat 500s and historic cars.
In the afternoon, the exit of the simulacrum of the saint will follow, with a procession through the streets of the city and a fireworks display.
On Monday, March 20, at 1 p.m., the release of the traditional “Dinner” organized by the municipality will be held, with the participation of employees and associations.
The party for tourists
So many tourists come to visit the dinners, including in private homes, and to participate in the procession, auction, and general festivities.
Those who want to attend the festival can take advantage of services offered by the City of Santa Croce Camerina, such as the demological museum and the comic book museum, which offer guided tours and a free shuttle bus service.
In addition, it is possible to follow the Passamano historical walking trail to discover the historical and cultural beauty of the area.
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Photographic contributions @Silvio Rizzo