The Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation (HBCDF) hosted more than 300 people on Monday evening at Roma View Catering at their annual St. Joseph’s Day Celebration.
Earlier in the day Joseph DeCandia, owner of Roma View and Lenny’s Clam Bar, appeared on Fox 5’s Good Morning America where he prepared a St. Joseph’s traditional buffet. For DeCandia, it was a very special day all around. “Today is my naming day,” he said proudly, “and the fact that I was able to come out and help the Foundation with their celebration on this day makes it that much more special. It’s so important for us to keep tradition alive.”
The celebration for the Foundation actually started on Saturday when they served up the traditional fare to students at the Italian Language Study program. “It’s our way of really trying to teach the culture and the traditions that are so important, in addition to the language,” said AnnMarie Gurino, Foundation secretary, as she doled out bowls of steaming pasta to eager students and guests at St. Helen’s School.
The feast of St. Joseph’s is rooted in the belief that on this day during the Middle Ages, St. Joseph interceded with God to bring about the end of the Sicilian drought.
A special table was put together where images of St. Joseph were surrounded with special foods like minestrone and pasta with breadcrumbs, symbolizing the sawdust that would have covered the floor of St. Joseph’s carpentry shop. Also on the special table, sometimes referred to as an altar, were seafood, Sfinge di San Giuseppe, and fava beans. In the traditional Italian folk lore, the beans were considered “lucky” because during the drought, the fava beans flourished while all other crops failed.
The event raises money each year that is distributed to various charities and programs supported by the Foundation.