A little altar for St Joseph

An old Puglian tradition to celebrated St Joseph

On the 19th of March the Church commemorates Saint Joseph, Jesus’ putative father.
Every year, in the little towns that surround Bari, people organize bonfires in honour of the beloved Saint. On Saint Joseph’s Eve, devoted families also open their houses to visitors and display their votive altars, trimmed with flowers and candles, symbol of this tradition. Under the altars you can also find the wonderful pagnotta: a little piece of bread  that priests had blessed during the afternoon and that visitors receive in return for a prayer.

In my town, Toritto, many families keep this tradition alive. They will also prepare, with the same dedication, altars for Saint Anthony on the 13th of June.
This is a special occasion to discover the town and live the truly spirit of this celebration, visiting the local houses, while drinking sparkling white wine and tasting taralli and ceci.

The night ends near the bonfire, set in the main square of the town, where everybody gather to enjoy the Cneidd, legumes cooked in a pot on the flame of the bonfire. In this suggestive atmosphere, the Pro-loco (so called the local organizations involved in the promotion of the territory) organizes a spectacular altar prepared by the artisans, in honour of their Patron Saint.

These are the tradition that keep alive our history, our culture and our faith, and only by knowing them we will be able to protect, understand and love our beautiful land’s roots.

Photos and article by Angela Coscia