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Saint Joseph’s bread and the devotion of the Altar

Do you know what “Pane di San Giuseppe” is? Last year on March the 19th, the day of Saint Joseph, I talked about our lovely tiyical sweets called sfinci, remember?

But there is also another important tradition in our region on the same festivity, and it’s to prepare a particular bread called after the Saint: “Pane di San Giuseppe” (literally Saint’s Joseph bread).

It is a tradition that still goes on in some of the villages in the island especially in the provinces of Trapani, Agrigento, Enna e Caltanissetta. The people who are particularly devoted to Saint Joseph, set up in their own houses a kind of Altar (small or big it doesn’t matter) that is dedicated to Him. They place a picture of the Sacred Family or the Holy Cross right up in the middle, symbol of Christianity, to be like the Tabernacle of the church.


Tables are decorated with oranges and lemons which are the fruits that the land of Sicily offers to the Saint and at the four corners they place some bay branches while, right in the middle, all the bread that has the most particular shapes: animals, objects, flowers, ecc. In Sicilian these edible refined sculptures are called “cuddure“. 

The altar must be ready on the 18th, eve of the festivity, and houses are open to visitors and tourists to pay respect and express the devotion. If the landlord offers some food to a visitor, it must be accepted, because it’s part of the devotion as well. This lasts until the following day when the striking ceremony ends usually at lunch time.

This tradition is at least 400 years old and, as usual, it may change in customs from village to village.

Being Saint Joseph the father of Jesus we also celebrate the Father’s day on this occasion, so don’t forget to call your dad or remember him in a sincere prayer.



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