Friday, March 19 is a day of celebration to honor the life of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. The celebration is also referred to as the Feast of St. Joseph or Solemnity of Saint Joseph. March 19 always falls on a week during Lent and, according to the Canon Law, if the feast day falls on a Friday, practicing Catholics are given permission to eat meat, which is typically not allowed on Fridays during Lent.
“St. Joseph is such a role model of being behind the scenes, being steady, hard-working and a loyal person. The church honors him as a worker and that is important that holiness is not only about praying but being close to God,” Dr. Mary Laver, the director of international partnerships, said.
In New Orleans, La., the Feast of St. Joseph is a city-wide event. One tradition that many residents of New Orleans take part in is buying a small statue of St. Joseph and placing him in their yards. This is a tradition that is said to help houses on the market sell faster. Altars are built for public and private visitors who want to pay homage. After the altars are taken down, food is usually given to charity.
In Sicily, St. Joseph is known as the Patron Saint because he prevented a famine during the Middle Ages. The legend tells a story of how Sicily was in a severe drought and the people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. If the rain came, they told him that a large feast would be made in honor of him. The rain finally appeared and, as promised, the residents of Sicily had a large feast for St. Joseph.
“Saint Joseph was a worker himself, a carpenter, to be exact,” Laver said.
To represent the work that St. Joseph did as a carpenter, foods are traditionally served that are made with bread crumbs to represent the saw dust from a carpenter’s work. In Italy, they follow the no-meat rule during Lent, even on the feast say, allowing only meatless dishes to be served. In majority of the communities in Sicily, the Zeppole, a Sicilian pasty is always served at the feast. Just like the traditions in New Orleans, giving food to the needy is an important tradition that goes along with the day.
“I was going to have a little thank you reception for the writers of “This I Believe” on St. Josephs day and it just happens to be a quince dent. I was told to get St. Joseph cake which is apparently known as Zeppoles,” Laver said
One way to take part in St. Joseph’s day is to prepare a special meal and invite just one or two people who need the food, the welcome and the companionship.