St. Joseph’s Day alters have popped up all over New Orleans.
The March 19th holiday, that began in the Middle Ages, was brought to New Orleans by Sicilians and is still being celebrated today.
Ken Weber, University Chaplain at Loyola University, said that setting up an alter at Loyola is a fun way to worship and get in touch with one’s spiritual side.
Religious teacher at Mount Carmel Academy, Angela Elliott, helps organize the alter at the school.
“Now were at it again and it’s gotten bigger and better every year but it is still a labor of love” said Elliott, “and every year someone new comes and says ‘how can I help?’.And that’s what we love to do, to increase that devotion to St. Joseph”
The alters are typically decorated with a variety of objects, such as cake, wine, olive oil, and special fava beans.
One New Orleans resident, Burke Bischoff, has carried a fava bean he received at a St. Joseph’s day alter in his wallet for two years and knows much about them.
“Way back in the day, I don’t know what day it was, but way back in the day Sicily was facing a famine the only thing the farmers could grow were these beans. They equated these with fertility, good luck, and eating.”
According to Elliott, there is one main thing to remember when it comes to St. Joseph’s Day.
“What you do, you simply do out great love and devotion to St. Joseph.”