Route 66 events:  the Festival of All Saints at Our Lady of Pompeii

A saint’s feast day?  Just another excuse for a party, if you’re Italian.  But all the saints??  That’s a BI-I-I-I-IG party.  Heck, it’s a festival.  And now that Indian summer is upon us, we’ll take this excuse to remember warmer days recently past – and catch you up on a few things we did this summer.  In this case, Joe was the party guy, so we’ll let him tell it.  Take it away, Joe!

Benvenuto!  If you are familiar with our blog site, you know that Maria has been posting up a storm.  However, it’s been some time since I’ve written a piece for the blog.  It’s not that I haven’t been working on all things Route 66.  In fact, I am the Special Guest Editor for two special Route 66 issues of the Illinois Geographical Society’s Illinois Geographer – to be published this fall and winter – and that’s kept both of us busy from July through September.  The issues will have the dual themes of preservation and tourism and will have articles and book reviews from geographers, historians, preservationists, and road enthusiasts.  Meanwhile, Maria went to the Illinois History Conference in Springfield and chaired a Route 66 panel of historians and preservationists (more on that later).  But I digress:  that’s not today’s topic.  As we often do on the route, we return to fun and food!

Unless otherwise noted, photos in this post are copyright 2014 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, photos in this post are copyright 2014 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

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Route 66 update: Mardi Gras, today in history, upcoming St. Joseph’s Day tables and more

Hey, happy Fat Tuesday, y’all!  Today is the culmination of Mardi Gras season, which for you good Catholics means it’s your last chance to pig out and party before the grim frugality of Lent sets in tomorrow on Ash Wednesday.  If you’re planning to dine out tonight in the area and want to do it on or near Route 66, we suggest Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket on the route/Joliet Road in Willowbrook, IL or the new Darien outpost of Chuck’s Southern Comforts Café, which is about four blocks north of where Joliet Road and I-55 cross Cass Avenue.  Both have special menus tonight and Chuck’s will have live music, too, but whereas Chuck’s will pinch your pocket for $39 for their Creole buffet, Dell Rhea’s remains tasty and cost effective as ever!  We say:  eat on the route tonight at Dell Rhea’s and save the first Saturday of April for the beignet breakfast (OMG!) at Chuck’s.  Compromise is sure nice, ain’t it?  Tasty, too.

Mardi_Gras beads and Mask - blog (Wikimedia Commons)

Mardi Gras beads and mask  (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and abrahammy)

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Celebrating St. Joseph’s Table the Italian way on Route 66

Both I and my co-author Joe grew up in Eastern European families on the South Side of Chicago.  Mine is Lithuanian, whereas Joe’s is Polish and Czech (Bohemian).  Lithuanians and Poles both celebrate namesdays rather than birthdays; in my family, namesdays are known as vardinės, whereas in Joe’s family, the Polish term is imieniny.  It’s traditional for our families to wish someone well on his or her namesday – so of course, we were bound to recognize St. Joseph’s Day this week.  To be able to do so while researching our book on Route 66 was an extra treat, as was the fact that both locations were on (or very near) the route.  I’ve included more background about the day and the dinner below, after our discussion about the dinner Joe attended.

The feast of St. Joseph, foster father of Christ, occurs on March 19th and is celebrated by both Catholics and Anglicans (Episcopalians in the U.S.) as well as by Lutherans.  It is also celebrated in the city of Rabat in Malta, in the Philippines, and in New Orleans.  In New Orleans there are parades in the Italian areas, and the Sunday before St. Joseph’s is designated Super Sunday, the last day of the season when Mardi Gras Indians parade and masque, greeting each other in the streets, after which that season’s Indian costumes are taken apart and work on  new ones is begun.

In southern California, St. Joseph’s is the day when swallows return to Capistrano during the spring migration northward.  In Spain, Portugal and Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is also Father’s Day.  Both Poland and Canada hold St. Joseph  to be their national patron saint, so the feast day takes on extra meaning.  The Eastern Orthodox Church, on the other hand, celebrates St. Joseph’s Day on the Sunday after Christmas.

OLOP exterior 1 - blog (MRTraska)

The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, Chicago, IL    (photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska)

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