The saints are a beautiful aspect of our faith, but sometimes we don’t rely on them like we should. We can forget that they are fully alive in heaven, helping to guide us and lead us to joy. They are our friends and mentors who are praying for us and giving us an example to follow—they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And truly, just as we celebrate our siblings on earth, we can celebrate with them!
Over the years, numerous traditions have been created to celebrate saints. Many of them also incorporate food, from St. Nicholas’ Day and treats for children, to Mañanitas and traditional Mexican food. Certainly, enjoying food temperately is a great way to celebrate with others, so with that in mind, let’s learn more about some other saints we can celebrate with tasty treats!
St. James the Great was called by Jesus with his brother John. Tradition tells us that St. James evangelized in what is now Spain, and his followers returned his body there after he was killed by King Herod in Jerusalem around 44 AD. Since then, the Camino, or Way of St. James, has attracted countless pilgrims to Spain. Many of the pilgrims enjoy a piece of Tarta de Santiago (https://www.carolinescooking.com/tarta-de-santiago/), a cake that has long been a Camino tradition, particularly when adorned with the cross of St. James (https://www.bakefromscratch.com/crossstencil/). This cake is delicious and naturally gluten free, so on this July 25th, wherever you are, celebrate St. James with his cake!
Another early Church figure, St. Lucy, was known for bringing food to Christians hiding in Roman catacombs. Tradition tells us she wore a wreath lit with candles on her head to freely carry the food. Many European cultures celebrate her on December 13th, bringing food to neighbors in need and lighting candles in the beginning of the dark winter season. One delicious food item traditionally associated with St. Lucy that you could make to celebrate her is lussekatter (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017039-st-lucia-buns), or a saffron bun.
Finally, in St. Joseph we are given a father who desires to direct us to his son. March 19th is a special feast day on which we can invite St. Joseph’s presence and guidance into our lives. While there are many recipes and traditions surrounding this feast, Italians in particular have a great devotion to St. Joseph and have created a treat to celebrate him, Zeppole (https://www.christinascucina.com/zeppole-di-san-giuseppe-st-josephs-day-traditional-italian-pastries/). This pastry is believed to have been created in the 16th century in a convent in Naples, and has undergone some changes over the centuries. Baker Pasquale Pintauro (https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/what-are-zeppole-history-and-recipe-italian-dessert) made the dish famous in the 19th century, which led us to this sweet treat we have today!
Pope Benedict XVI said that the example of the Saints encourages us to, “experience the joy of those who trust in God.” So let us have that joy by celebrating with the saints, inviting them into our lives, and allowing them to help us have a taste of eternity.