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Crescent City Farmers Market to celebrate tradition of St. Joseph's Day altar

Loyola press release - March 7, 2002

(New Orleans)—On Tuesday, March 19, 2002, the Crescent City Farmers Market at the Uptown Square will be the scene of a reenactment of a charming tradition that dates back to at least the 16th century in Sicily and well over a century here in New Orleans. In appreciation to St. Joseph for ending a terrible drought and famine, the Sicilians pledged food altars, erected on his feast day each year.

Slow Foods, Ursuline Academy and the vendors at the Tuesday Uptown market will show their gratitude to St. Joseph by constructing a traditional altar. A statute of St. Joseph for the altar will be on loan from Ursuline Academy. The Jedi Knights Vespa Scooter Club will accompany the altar. Vespas are Italian motor scooters.

Ursuline Academy students and alumnae have baked hundreds of cookies in preparation for the event to be given out after the blessing by Monsignor Randy Roux. The traditional fig cookies, the cuchidati, will be distributed to market visitors along with blessed bread, lucky fava beans and holy cards.

As early as 1850, there were more Italians living in New Orleans than in any other U.S. city. In 1870, there were 5,000 Sicilians living in the area. Today, there are still altars all over the city, some serving hot meals all day.

The Crescent City Farmers Market is open every Tuesday, in the Uptown Square, on Broadway at Leake Ave., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit the redesigned web site at www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org. For more information, call 861-5898.