St.Joseph Feast Day
Many traditions and customs have developed around St. Joseph and his feast day. According to the Christian Bible, St. Joseph the carpenter was the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. Tradition says that March 19th is the birthday of St. Joseph.
The feast that is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day honors all fathers. In the Catholic tradition, St. Joseph’s Day traditionally falls during the fasting season of Lent that precedes Easter.
Throughout the Catholic Church, Saint Joseph has always been regarded as the family protector. Several centuries ago, a severe famine in Sicily caused considerable suffering and starvation. The peasant farmers turned in prayer to Saint Joseph for help. The famine soon ended, and in gratitude, the farmers honored Saint Joseph by filling an altar with their most prized possession-food.
In America, the custom of the Saint Joseph’s Table has become like a giant pot luck dinner. Because Saint Joseph’s Feast falls during the Lenten season, foods at the celebration consist of traditional meatless dishes such as fruit and vegetables, pasta, fish and varieties for bread and pastries (all dishes are welcome at our feast).
Children are an important part of this celebration. It’s customary to have three children represent the Holy Family. The priest blesses the food, the “Holy Family” is served first, and then everyone enjoys the feast. A Saint Joseph’s Table has been a tradition for many years.
On this day, all who come to the door are invited to dinner. Are you prepared Italians? Oh yes, they are! The family table is extended full-length, moved against the wall (like the Church altar), and a statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and candles is made the centerpiece. After the guests have enjoyed the bounteous feast, the guests leave so other guests may enter.
Many other countries join the festivities on March 19th and, since Joseph is one of the most common names in these countries, most families have at least one Giuseppe, Jozefa, José, Pepe, Joe, or Josephine to celebrate with at dinner!
In the United States, red is worn on St. Joseph’s Day. There doesn’t seem to be any religious significance to this color. It seems to have begun as a tradition to complement the tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls only two days before.
Selling your home? Tradition says you should bury a statue of St.Joseph upside down in the ground of the home you are trying to sell. The tradition has been traced to St Teresa of Avila who prayed that St Joseph would intercede to obtain land for Christian converts. Joseph was a man who knew about moving on a moment’s notice and providing a home for his family. He also knew what it’s like to have housing trouble (remember being turned away from the inns?), and so is likely to be sympathetic to people with trouble getting or leaving a home. Leave the statue in the ground after the sale or once the house is sold, Joseph is “rewarded” by being dug up, set aright and set in a place of honor in the family’s new home.