“May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.”
This is a blessing for St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated on Monday, March 17th. This is a day that everyone is Irish, a day to be merry and commemorate the love of St. Patrick for his followers, Irish or not.
St. Patrick’s Day customs came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts. There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. One legend among many others is said that St. Patrick used the three leafed Shamrocks to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, it now has become a holiday to celebrate Irish culture by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and enjoying many other things Irish. Shamrocks, Blarney Stones, Pots of Gold, Celtic Fairies, and even dyeing rivers with green food coloring to name a few are all Irish traditions and legends.
This is also a day when stories of Leprechauns and spirits are told. In Irish mythology, a Leprechaun is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the country of Ireland. According to folklore, these “faerie folk” were to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. In most tales and stories Leprechauns are depicted as generally harmless creatures that enjoy solitude and live in remote locations. They are said to have been cobblers or shoemakers. They are supposed to be very rich, having many treasure crocks filled with gold buried in secret locations. Another popular belief is that you may find a Leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Some say that they have mythical power and magical control over the workings of Earth, and even have the power of trickery that confuses their target allowing the Leprechaun to play tricks on his victims. In 1831 Samuel Lover describes the Leprechaun wearing a red coat that was laced with gold, a cocked hat, pointed shoes, a beard like an elf, silver buckles on his shoes, and spectacles stuck on his pointed nose. The modern image of the Leprechaun is depicted by having red hair; with a beard, wearing an emerald green frock coat, and often with a crock of gold. He has knowledge of the many locations where more treasure is buried.
Did you know that the color associated with St. Patrick was originally blue not green? Green was the color that was most widely associated with Ireland and the Irish people. The change from blue to green began about the 1750s. St. Patrick‘s color now in modern times is green, also due to the phrase, “the wearing of the green“. The shamrock is now the symbol of Ireland. Shamrocks are considered to bring good luck.
“St. Joseph, protect me and my family as you did with the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever strong in the virtue of the Blessed Mother, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen”
As much as I love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, being an Italian American I also celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, which is this Wednesday, March 19th. St. Patrick often it is expressed through the “wearing of the green,” and “wearing of the red,” is what the Italian people do for St. Joseph. According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time and many people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Their prayers were answered and the rain did come. So the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint.
The spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus’ step father, St. Joseph has solemnity and rank in the Roman Catholic Church. St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and is the patron Saint of not only carpenters but also, married people, family life, and workers. In some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is regarded as Father’s Day. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s custom. In Italy a typical St. Joseph’s Day altar would have flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, cookies, specially prepared cakes, breads, and zeppole. (A Neapolitan pastry) Other treats are called frittelle, sfinci, and cream puffs filled with whipped cream or custard. This is done as a thank you to St. Joseph for surviving a famine that the Italian people went thorough. Foods that are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. The altar usually has three tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. St. Joseph’s Day is also the day when the swallows are traditionally believed to return to Mission San Juan Capistrano after having flown south for the winter. St. Joseph, is the patron saint of the family, and also the patron saint of pastry chefs. In Italy, the Feast of San Giuseppe is a national holiday. Auguri !!!
My recipe this week is “Sesame Beer Bread.” A hearty bread coated in sesame seeds, with a subtle beer flavor. This bread is good along side a soup. Because it contains no fat, so it should be eaten the same day. It can also be served warm with some butter or room temperature with a cup of tea or a mug of cold beer. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and the Feast of St. Joseph. Hope that you find the luck of the Irish and the peace of St. Joseph!
“Sesame Beer Bread”
3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tbsp of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
12 1/2 oz of light beer
1 1/4 teaspoons of milk
2 tbsp. of sesame seeds
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add beer to well. Stir until soft, sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently shape to fit greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Place dough in pan. Press into corners if necessary. Brush top of loaf with milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in 375°F oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Cut into 16 slices. Should be eaten within a day, I am sure that will not be a problem.
Till Next Time……………….
Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved