celebration of San Giuseppe is the event that best conserves the antique
flavor, thus giving us the opportunity to see a series of rituals that through
the centuries have more or less remained completely intact.
San Giuseppe isn’t just about fires that stay lit for 24hrs in various areas
of Morrone, legumes, and the “maccherun ca ndrit”; it is also a scenic event
that is still observed with scrupulous regularity by those people that remain
dedicated to the distribution of the various “devotions”. Among the numerous
and by no means easy tasks, on San Giuseppe day the morronesi are involved
with the “Rite of the Sacred Family”.
choose three people: a man, a woman, and a child; at one time chosen from
the poorest of Morrone, and people of remarkable honesty, therefore giving
them the occasion to “over eat” at least once a year.
At one time being chosen was embarrassing, but today it is difficult to
find extremely needy people in Morrone. The three chosen subjects impersonate
Jesus, Joseph and Mary, and then in an appropriate closed room a table is
set and they enjoy a very “special” lunch that has been prepared for them.
chickpeas, cicerchia’s, fava beans, broccoli raab, white rice, maccheroni,
fried red cod, sarda’s, mushrooms, asparagus, snails, citillo, fritters
(scrppell), caragnole (nocche), oranges (cut and seasoned with salt), bread,
water and wine.
A series of prayers precede the lunch, as well as a prayer before every
course. There is also a concluding prayer. There are two waiters: one stands
always near the door and the other enters only when the table companions
bang their spoons on the plate.
Immediately after, as dictated by tradition, a basket containing the leftovers
from the lunch, a pagnotta (a round loaf of bread weighing 4 kilos), scrppell
and a dish of ctill are packed into a bowl and brought to the houses of
each of the members of the “Sacred Family”.
the many people involved in this tradition one of the most active is the
Signora Filomena Frantangelo (a Cacchiefiell). We must ask ourselves up
until when can we enjoy the charities offered by these kind and generous
women. We will be able to enjoy it maybe for a few more years if someone
takes part in accompanying, continuing, and preserving this tradition that
for Morrone and for all the morronesi is a type of family heirloom that
should be guarded at all costs.
From “Voyage in the Molise” by Francesco Jovine.
Those days of March are days in which in town one celebrates San Giuseppe.
An old man, an old woman, both poor, and a child are chosen to be the “Sacred
Family”. After a solemn mass the man and woman hurry off to the house to
which they are invited holding the child by the hand between them. They
are cleaned, made to feel at home, remorseful; the child is dressed accordingly
in the typical peasant garb, as an adult: grimly with long socks, hiking-like
boots with spikes, a shabby round hat; and he glances seriously and gravely
with stunned eyes at those that accompany him. Along the main road the trio
meets other “Sacred Families” that have the same appearance and the same
gait. Once they have arrived at the designated house, St. Giuseppe, the
Madonna and the child say: “Jesus and Mary”.
The pious family assembles, waits for them, and then responds: “Today and
always”. In a little secluded room there is a table set for the guests:
the women of the family serve the meal barefoot and silent. Not even the
old man, the old woman or the child speak; the entire meal must be carried
out in silence, without anyone daring to disturb the atmosphere of austere
devotion that is in the act. Although the lunch is 13 courses, maccheroni
with fried bread crumbs, beans, chickpeas, rice, escargot, mushrooms, fish,
etc…the function is carried out quickly: who knows how hard it is on the
two old jaws of the sacred guests to chew that gift from God.
They just taste the courses, however, and the leftovers are scrupulously
sent to the “coscine” at home, along with an enormous loaf of bread that
is like a rock of a threshing floor. Once the “Sacred Family” has left,
the common banquet begins. It is louder, more joyful, and with an innumerable
amount of guests. The table is prepared and whoever enters and asks on the
behalf of Jesus and Mary can seat themselves at the table and eat.
They are served chickpeas and beans: big and tepid, well cooked and flavored
with salt and olive oil. These legumes are the pride and joy of the women
that wake up two hours before sunrise just to put them on the fire in big
earthenware pots while they listen to the March winds rumbling in the chimney,
winds that are the paternal voice of the Saint granting his thanks and abundance
to his devotees. At the table they say that there are chickpeas so big and
tasty, beans so white and tender, only the holy goodness of the immaculate
patriarch can provide them. Everybody praises the Saint and they eat and
drink; but the true vagrants, those bearded, tattered and begging ones that
come down from Morrone or Lupara or Castebottaccio for the party, don’t
dare seat themselves; they bring a knapsack for some bread and a little
pail for some soup. When the collection of alms is finished they leave alone
and eat their fill in the shade of the already flowering hawthorn hedges.