Monday, March 21, 2011


My MUM. She is bloody amazing. She is running on one lung, she is in pain, nauseous, breathless, tired yet she allowed us to celebrate another year of St Josephs day together, once again.
(I have copied an old post I wrote in 2006 from my old blog below so you know what it's about )

When my Sister told me a couple of weeks ago that my Mum wasn't doing an Alter this year. I said to her as if she wouldn't, no she told me she wasn't, she insisted. Bollocks! Mum has always told me if she is alive she will be doing an alter. The next day I asked her and she said oh I will just put the frame up and maybe make a couple of kilos of bread. I know my Mum too well she would be doing the whole deal. So 9 kilos of bread and a small alter later we gathered and feasted together. It was a small gathering this year some family were moving house and some traveling so couldn't make it. Which was fine, it meant less washing up!

So Boo got to experience his second year of our family tradition, which was wonderful. He also tried one of Mums famous Canolli for the first time and loved it. I missed Max a lot. He loved this tradition, he was not religious but he loved what this stood for and he loved that the family, his adopted family came together and celebrated, not to mention all the yummy food. Last year even though he was there, he couldn't enjoy it like he usually did. He had no appetite and he was in a lot of pain, he was uncomfortable.  We didn't know he only had 7 weeks to live and his last St Josephs day.

When I saw my GP last week, she asked how my Mum was doing. She couldn't believe it. She told me how fortunate she and we have been because no one with lung cancer survives that long.
What a true blessing. Perhaps St Jospeh has something to do with that ? She is truly an amazingly strong woman. I love my Mum.

Here she is in action. Making the traditional St Joseph bread with Fennel seeds.

This years Alter.


The Alter (post from The Sweet Life 2006)

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Today is Saint Joseph's Day (San Guiseppe). It is our family tradition that we all gather together as a family to indulge in a feast.

This ancient tradition goes back to the Middle Ages. At that time there was a severe drought in Sicily. No rain fell for a long period of time, no crops would grow, and countless people died of famine. The peasants prayed for rain, they prayed to St. Joseph. They promised that if it rained, they would have a special feast honouring St. Joseph. After it rained they kept their word and prepared a giant feast in which everyone was invited including the poor. As part of the feast they erected an altar that consisted of three levels. The three levels, which represent the Holy Trinity, were draped in white linen and covered with flowers.

My mother no matter how tired or unwell she is, she makes her alter for St Joseph, some years bigger than others. This years was relatively small compared to other years, but she has been unwell so it is expected. We still think she has overdone it. St Joseph's day is extra special in our house as it is also my fathers name day. It takes my mother a week to prepare the altar and cook all the foods and sweets for the day. It is usually held on the Sunday closest to the 19th of March, but this year it falls on a Sunday.

We all gather at my Mum and Dads place, where there is a huge extended table set for all of us. We have a very large family so we often have the table extended for gatherings. We are seated around and the children are seated separately and served first as they represent the apostles.

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The food eaten on this day is vegetarian and fish as it is during the time of lent.
The traditional food my Mother served during this day was for entrée , pasta with cauliflower and wild fennel. Instead of parmesan it is serves with fried bread crumbs, as many peasants could not afford cheese but there was always old bread in the house to make the fried bread crumbs. Funny thing is I saw Jamie Oliver cooking this up the other night, it has become fashionable as many other peasant foods. Then for seconds we have grilled fish and callamari. Another speciality is battered cauliflower coated in sugar. I know it sounds weird but it is really yummy. And for desert it is usually hand made biscuits and cakes. It was hot today so we had gelato. The bread and biscuits are beautifully hand crafted by my mother, something that she is very gifted at doing. No one goes home empty handed they must at least leave with a food parcel, which always consists of bread.

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It is a shame that this tradition will probably never be passed on through our families, but we will always have these memories that we will treasure forever.


lparsons15 said...

Wow..your Mum is amazing! That is beautiful!

BigP's Heather said...

That is amazing artistry. What a great tradition.

Leah said...

That is so amazing!! The alter looks beautiful. Good on her for doing it come hell or high water. The memories and comfort of these kind of traditions is such a gift for Boo.

Would it be ok for me to link to your blog from mine, I had a post coming up to family celebrations soon and I'd love to include yours, as I don't know anyone who celebrates a saints day, let alone so well! No hard feelings if the answer is no :)

Vee said...

Sure Leah, that would be fine. Look forward to reading your post.

maytey said...

Indeed, she is a wonderful woman :)

Lut C. said...

9 kg of bread?! Even with lots of help, that sounds astounding.

How wonderful that you could celebrate this occasion with your mother again.

DaisyGal said...

what a beautiful tradition to keep going, your mom sounds absolutely AMAZING and why wouldn't she be, she made you!!!!!
I loved seeing all the love that went into that alter and day of celebration this year, it's something to be thankful for. Your mom is still here and that's a wonderful thing.

sending love to both of you. xo

MrsSpock said...

Wow, I can't tell any difference from 2006 to this year. Your Mum did a fantastic job!

Leah said...

Hi Vee, my post is up, thanks a lot for letting me link up :)

Sif said...

I've come here via Leah's post and just had to say how beautiful the alter is! And those breads, your mum is certainly gifted! Just Wow! Thanks for sharing!