During the 19th century, in many places in Sicily, the lords of the city offered a lavish lunch to the children of poor peasants in the week before the feast of Saint Joseph. This lunch was an offering made to the saint as a votive offering and took the name of “Pranzo delle Verginelle” (Lunch of the Virgins).

The custom of these tables laden with all good and typical products of the time reaches our days and takes the form of the invitation of some young people from the neighborhood celebrating the so-called “vicineddi“, to celebrate the feast.

In the town of Motta Sant’Anastasia, in the province of Catania, the tradition of the “Virgineddi” is practiced by many as a thanksgiving in honor of Saint Joseph, in the week of his celebration (18th March).

The tables are set up a few days before the festival, so as to be visited by the entire population. These are laden with rich dishes and typical local products such as pasta with chickpeas or wild fennel, rice with lentils, stewed broccoli, asparagus omelettes, local products such as fennel and artichokes. Desserts cannot be missing, including ravioli and cannoli with ricotta, almond-based desserts and other typical local specialties, such as the “Sfince di San Giuseppe”. A characteristic element of the rich tables is the bread of Saint Joseph, prepared in many traditional forms, characterized by a gilding obtained from the egg white spread on the surface and garnished with poppy seeds.

Giacomarra M., Il mangiare di san Giuseppe nel comprensorio delle Alte Madonie. Pietanze rituali e produzioni locali, 2014
REIS website https://reis.cricd.it/reisicilia/details/2/17