This is the first time in decades that I have been home for St Patrick's Day...and for the parade that goes down the main shopping street in my family's suburb. The parade has a reather non-denominational name, but it's really a combination celebration for St Patrick and St Joseph, under the name "the Irish-Italian Parade." As at Mardi Gras, beads, trinkets and toys are tossed from the floats (even the floats are recycled from Mardi Gras, just four weeks past). Unlike Mardi Gras, the prized throws here are not doubloons but ... cabbages. And carrots, onions, potatoes, lemons, oranges, ramen noodles. But cabbages are the real prize, given the "Irish" part of the parade equation. The St Joseph side is the abundance of providence being tossed mile after mile to the crowds.
The parade route is just two blocks from Mom's, so the whole family gathered there, but it was quite a challenge lugging the onion sack full of "loot" back to the house. As it is, there is no way Mom can use all of the produce I brought home; I imagine the sisters got a good bit themselves (the parade started directly in front of the book center), but I will try to foist my earnings on them. Tomorrow.
As I went up to a float to grasp the heavy cabbge being handed down to me from one float, a potato or onion was being handed to the Muslim woman next to me. She, too, was enjoying the "Catholic" tradition of bounty shared with all in honor of the saints.
Today across the city, St Joseph "altars" will be open for meals. St Rita's parish, where I will be leading the mission this week, has one with the most unique cakes I have ever seeen. Not just the open book style sheet cake; not just the Sicilian breads shaped like St. Joseph's toolbox or a ladder or saw or local creatures (crab, anyone), but two red, heart-shaped cakes, one decorated with a pretzel-rod crown of thorns, the other with icing roses, both topped with flames of orange wedge gumdrops. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Cakes. Scattered around the food items are photographs of the departed (St Joseph is patron of a good death, so many people donate items to the St. Joseph altar as a memorial gift). The "tupa tupa" is today, too: a kind of Italian "posadas" where the "tupa" represents the sound of St. Joseph knocking on doors, seeking food and shelter. At St Rita's the table is set.
Catholic sister (nun) of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international community founded in 1915 for evangelization in the world of communication. Singer, writer and speaker for Pauline Books & Media (US) currently working on digital projects for my community and its publishing ministry.