On St. Joseph day votive breads are made in many towns of Sicily. On this day the faithfuls who made a vow to the Saint offer a table spread in their home, in order to keep their promise in exchange for a requested grace or devotion. Loaves are a symbol of renewal and rebirth and are accompanied by the first fruits of the season. The banquet is offered to the poor of whom the Saint is protector as well as of orphans and carpenters, it is a symbol of conviviality between men and with the divinity. The dinner recalls the Last Supper and represents the rebirth after death, the spring that comes at the end of winter through symbols, the first fruits of the season, propitiatory foods and wheat.

In Salemi, preparations for St. Joseph Day begin much earlier: women are engaged in the realisation of votive breads which are artworks representing varied forms of nature and carpentry tools that recall the craft of Saint Joseph; men take care of the altars building them with wooden or iron structures covered by laurel, boxwood and propitiatory fruits. At dinner there are three children, invited among the poorer families of the community, who represent the Holy Family: Joseph, Mary and Jesus. They are always honoured by cucciddati, votive loaves in the shape of a flowered stick, palm and decorated donut. The banquet is enriched by traditional dishes like omelette and fennel: symbols of abundance which are offered to children and devotees. During the meal, litanies are recited and songs are sung, so that the shared meal nourishes not only the body but also the spirit: a symbol of charity and sharing.

The tradition of tables, altars and the sharing of food, especially bread, has its roots in ancient times. The period of the feast of Saint Joseph, that of the sprouting of wheat, is close to many ancient rites linked to rebirth: the first fruits of the season and the beginning of a new cycle of life also recall the cult of Demeter, goddess of agriculture and crops, deeply felt in antiquity.

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