Festa di San Giuseppe

Culturalmente Imparando

Joseph is among the most beloved figures of Christianity, but also among the most underrated. He had no supernatural abilities and did not perform incredible miracles, nor did he die as a martyr. The New Testament (Luke and Matthew) tells little and nothing about him. Simply, at some point in the life of the young Jesus he disappears. In the end, Joseph was just a humble carpenter who married a girl who became "mysteriously" pregnant. What is special about this man then? The answer is not in miracles or martyrdom, but in the small gestures with which he raised an older child and in the lost pages of Jesus' youth. Joseph embodies those special values (sweetness, patience, understanding, sacrifice) that made him the "father" par excellence in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian community.

Joseph is celebrated in many places in Italy, both large cities and small towns. An example of the latter is the feast that takes place on March 19 in Cascano of Sessa Aurunca, in Campania. For centuries in this small town a period of celebration has been dedicated to the saint, which begins on March 10th with the first of a series of religious masses (called novene). At the end of these masses some local families give loaves of bread (called cuccetelle) to passers-by as a sign of devotion. In the evening, wine and soup (the menestella) are also offered. It may even happen that these offerings take place spontaneously during the year. The event attracts to Cascano the many emigrants to other Italian regions or abroad.

For many people the real "feast" is on the day of the eve, March 18. Throughout the day the town comes alive with folk songs and dances, families who dispense food and wine in the streets or in their homes and small crowds waiting for the most evocative event of all, the lighting of bonfires in the evening. The latter are prepared in different places in Cascano, according to the tradition that concerns the single "district". In the weeks preceding the event, large wooden logs (tuocchi) are collected and used to light the bonfires on the evening of the eve. On the 19th there is a long religious procession in honour of the saint (with the statue being carried on the shoulders of the bearers dressed in white tunic) and with hundreds of believers carrying candles, some of them of considerable weight and size, as a sign of devotion.

Walking through the streets of Cascano you can admire numerous recent artistic installations. In recent years, thanks to the industriousness of the local Pro Loco and other groups of volunteers, the small village has been largely revitalized. In the walls of the buildings you can admire panels and sculptures in refined ceramics that represent the ancient crafts, elements of fantasy or St. Joseph himself. A phenomenon that has affected before Cascano also other nearby villages with pleasant results. Cascano boasts a long-standing artistic tradition in the production of ceramics that still survives in some skilled hands and in the workshops of the local art school. The church dedicated to Sant'Erasmo (patron saint of Cascano) is enriched by splendid works of art. Among these is the Baptism of Christ, painted in 1991 by the Neapolitan artist Mario Buonoconto, who was also a set designer, scholar, teacher, writer and restorer. Disappeared in 2003, the talented painter has held exhibitions both in Italy and abroad, and was founder of the Figurativa 5 art group, as well as author of essays on esoteric Naples. Another work worthy of mention is a Madonna of Constantinople with child by an anonymous author, dated to the late fifteenth century.

sources consulted


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  • L'Autore

    Mario Rafaniello

    Mario Rafaniello Vice Responsabile della rubrica “Culturalmente Imparando”. Partecipa anche all’entusiasmante progetto “Japan 2020” e si interessa di arte, cultura e letteratura.

    Laureato in Giurisprudenza e laureando in Relazioni Internazionali. Attualmente collabora con diversi portali online.



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