Saint Joseph’s Day, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is also the step-father of Jesus of Nazareth/Jesus Christ. Saint Joseph’s Day is the Patronal Feast day for Poland as well as for Canada, persons named Joseph, Josephine, Pino, Pippo, Peppe, Beppe, Pine’, etc., for religious institutes, schools and parishes bearing his name, and for carpenters.
March 19th It is also Father’s Day in some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Saint Joseph is also considered the patron of laborers and artisans.
In Sicily, where St. Joseph is regarded by many as their Patron men , and many Italian-American communities, thanks are given to St. Joseph (, San Giuseppi in Sicilian,”San Giuseppe” in Italian) for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time, and the people prayed for their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. The rain did come, and the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and is a traditional part of St. Joseph’s Day altars and traditions. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s Day custom.
In some communities it is traditional to wear red clothing and eat ” Maccu of St. Joseph”, “Sfingi di San Giuseppe”, the Siciliana version of a Neapolitan pastry known as a Zeppole (created in 1840 by Don Pasquale Pinatauro in Napoli) on St. Joseph’s Day.
Upon a typical St. Joseph’s Day altar, people place flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, specially prepared cakes, breads, and cookies (as well as other meatless dishes), and zeppole. Foods are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. Because the feast occurs during Lent, traditionally no meat was allowed on the celebration table. The altar usually has three tiers, to represent the trinity.
On the Sicilian island of Lipari, The St. Joseph legend is modified somewhat, and says that sailors returning from the mainland encountered a fierce storm that threatened to sink their boat. They prayed to St. Joseph for deliverance, and when they were saved, they swore to honor the saint each year on his feast day. The Liparian ritual is somewhat changed, in that meat is allowed at the feast.
Some villages like Avola used to burn wood and logs in squares on the day before St.Joseph, as thanksgiving to the Saint. In Belmonte Mezzagno this is currently still performed every year, while people ritually shouts invocations to the Saint in local Sicilian language. This is called “A Vampa di San Giuseppe” (the Saint Joseph’s bonfire). In Villabate, a small town at the threshold of Palermo, the traditional “Vastuni di San Giuseppi”, the stick of Saint Joseph, consisting of a tall and heavy rod adorned adorned with flowers and fruits, is carried in procession, around the town to shoulder of men of a congregation dedicated to the worker’s saint.
Spectacular celebrations are also held in Bagheria. The Saint is even celebrated twice a year, the second time being held especially for people from Bagheria who come back for summer vacation from other parts of Italy or abroad.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, the city of Louis Prima & Louis Armstrong, and home of Nick La Rocca and the Dixieland Band, to name few which was a major port of entry for Sicilian immigrants during the late 19th century, the Feast of St. Joseph is a city-wide event. Both public and private St. Joseph’s altars are traditionally built. The altars are usually open to any visitor who wishes to pay homage. The food is generally distributed to charity after the altar is dismantled.There are also parades in honor of St. Joseph and the Italian population of New Orleans which are similar to the many marching clubs and truck parades of Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. Tradition in New Orleans also holds that by burying a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the front yard of a house, that house will sell more promptly. In addition to the above traditions, some groups of Mardi Gras Indians stage their last procession of the season on the Sunday nearest to St. Joseph’s Day otherwise known as “Super Sunday,” after which their costumes are dismantled.
Saint Joseph’s Day is also celebrated in other American communities with high proportions of Italians such as New York City; Utica, NY, Syracuse, NY, Buffalo, NY, Hoboken, NJ, Jersey City, NJ; Kansas City, MO; and Chicago; Gloucester, Mass., Providence, Rhode Island, where observance (which takes place just after Saint Patrick’s Day) often is expressed through “the wearing of the red”, i.e., wearing red clothing or accessories similar to the wearing of green on Saint Patrick’s Day. St. Joseph’s Day tables may also be found in Rockford and Elmwood Park, Illinois.
excerpt from Wikipedia edited by Vanvakys.com