Today is St. Joseph's Day. In Italy, it's also Father's Day. St. Joseph is considered the patron saint of Sicily and of carpenters among other things. Since my name is Joseph, the Feast of St. Joseph is considered, by my Italian forebears, my "Onomastico," or my "Name Day," and, thusly, a time for celebration.
Regular readers know I don't spend much time here speaking of religion. I spent fifteen years of my life working in religion publishing and writing about the topic--especially the lives of the saints. I will never do it again. Never. (Unless I'm paid handsomely and can write the goriest, scariest version of the lives of the saints ever written. They're already pretty gory anyway, in many cases.)
So, you'll forgive me if I don't provide you more of a history of St. Joseph (as we used to call him in the "biz," Jesus' foster father). However, I will point out that St. Joseph's Day is rather a big deal in predominately Catholic nations, and especially Italy where his feast is celebrated in fine style (often without meat, since it falls during Lent).
For my family, however, my onomastico is a great excuse to gather and enjoy my mother's exceptional cooking. As with most things, for me, it's all about the food.
A couple of Sundays ago, my mother whipped up a lovely new batch of her exceptional red sauce and meatballs. This pre-St. Joseph's Day feast was an Italian delight with this savory sauce and lovely crisp salads.
For dessert, we indulged in a classic Italian treat--biscotti. I'm particularly fond of my mother's homemade biscotti. I learned recently that these crunchy Italian cookies are called "biscotti" not because they're biscuits, but because the name actually means “twice baked.” The dough is baked once in a loaf and then sliced into its traditional shape and baked again. The reason for this was to remove the moisture from the cookies so that they’d last longer in the days before preservatives.