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San Giuseppe’s ritual

It’s March 19 , in the small town of Palazzo Adriano religion and food bring people together.

The elders of the village meet at Circolo Unione as usual, anything but usual is what will happen in a few hours through the streets of Palazzo Adriano. The only sounds that are heard in the air are the gentle gushes of the fountain and the bells of the Roman Catholic and orthodox Byzantine churches calling the faithful to participate in both rituals. Slowly the square begins to fill up with people of all ages; There are those who come from the countryside with precious loot, bunches of asparagus or daffodils, people who bring baskets of sweets, some children laugh and run, the industrious Basilian nuns silently emerge from their rooms and cross the square to take part in the morning liturgy which precedes the main celebration.

It’s the celebration of San Giuseppe , and the entire community of this small town in the Sicilian hinterland, particularly devoted to the saint, is at work to celebrate him. The celebration, organised and sustained for many years by the San Giuseppe association foresees that sumptuous tables full of all kinds of food are set up. What cannot be missing is the blessed bread, which on this day takes precise forms: symbols of San Giuseppe‘s work tools , but also, first spring fruits, oranges and fennel, and the typical sweets of the festival: sfince, pignolata. In the town’s square the circle of San Giuseppe and the Basiliane nuns set up these tables for the community, keeping the tradition alive. Many people also set up smaller tables at home, with the intention of asking for graces to the saint, like Signora Ninuccia, who has been striving for 30 years to create her own small table, like an altar in the main room of her little house. Tradition wants that this banquet is offered to the less well-off, who take part in the table; a group of men and women joins the Circle of San Giuseppe and gathers in the internal courtyard of the congregation of daughters of Saint Macrina, and prepares huge pots of traditional pasta; At 12 o’clock the bells of the Santa Maria del Lume and Maria Santissima Assunta churches ring; the liturgy is over and all the people take part in the tables. The entire community is brought together, collaborating , eating and sharing food. A religious rite that strengthens the social and generational bond.

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