St. Joseph's Day was yesterday, March 19th. (St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and earthly father of Jesus.) Years ago, my sister and I were invited to a St. Joseph's Day Altar by a friend of hers who was Italian-American. I have never forgotten it! There were all kinds of lovely food dishes artfully arranged in three tiers with flowers and fruit interspersed beside the dishes. (The top shelf had a statue of St. Joseph). Reading up on it now, I realize that since St. Joseph's Day is always during the season of Lent, all the food would have been vegetable or fish dishes along with sweet cakes. Some of the dishes would have had breadcrumbs as toppings, these would symbolize sawdust to remind us of St. Joseph, the carpenter. I really can't say that I remember that fact, but I do remember that it was all very good. We were given a fava bean when we left....
The St. Joseph's Altar came from Sicily. During the Middle Ages, Sicily suffered from famine. The severe drought ended after the people prayed to St. Joseph. The fava bean is the crop that saved them from starvation and is therefore a traditional part of the St. Joseph's altars.
San Juan Capistrano! It is in California, there is a famous Mission there founded by Spanish Catholics in 1776. It is well known because of the cliff swallows that return faithfully there very year in March, and it is also on March 19th, same day as St. Joseph's Day! I hope you know the story of the swallows! Father St. John O'Sullivan. who was the pastor of the church during the 1920's noticed a shopkeeper knocking down a nest of birds who were trying to build under the eaves of his shop. When he told Father O'Sullivan what he was doing, Father O'Sullivan said, "Come on swallows, I'll give you shelter. Come to the mission. There's room enough there for all." The very next day, the swallows did just that and they have been returning to the Mission ever since. Mission San Juan Capistrano - Mission San Juan Capistrano (missionsjc.com)
If you click on that link that I gave you above, you can read more about it!
Of course, there MUST be a song connected with this. (You knew there would be, I know!) "When The Swallows Come Back to Capistrano" was written by Leon Rene and first recorded by The Ink Spots in 1940. (The Ink Spots featuring Bill Kenny! I have written about them before, you know I love the songs by them!) The most wonderful thing, the Rene Family donated the piano on which Leon Rene composed the tune and the Mission has it displayed in a special room at the Mission honoring the songwriter.
Leon Rene also wrote another song about a bird too! "Rocking Robin"! And I must tell you, robins are more likely to run along than to rock. They are not very good fliers so please be especially careful of robins if you see them in the road. Robins in America are in the thrush family and tend to be a bit bottom heavy. I have observed birds for many years so this is a personal observation of mine!
Today is March 20th, first day of Spring! It is the time when we get to see the male cardinal (bright red) actually feed his mate! Now, I don't have a photo of it here but I promise that they do, just as faithfully as the swallows return to Capistrano, every year.
Happy Spring to you all!