What Is St. Joseph’s Day? Who, When, & Why?

What Is St. Joseph's Day?, What Is St. Joseph’s Day? Who, When, & Why?, The Travel Bug Bite

Two days ago was St. Patrick’s day and today is St. Joseph’s day. But what Is St. Joseph’s day? Celebrated annually on March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day is a popular holiday among Italian-Americans. Typically, they gather together wearing red costumes to enjoy the feast day by donating food to the hungry.

What Is St. Joseph’s Day?

St. Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary and stepfather of Jesus Christ. He is Italy’s patron saint! According to the Catholic Culture, St. Joseph saved Sicily after a terrible famine struck the region. The feast day celebrated on March 19th is known as San Giuseppe.

“In popular tradition the Gospel story of St. Joseph asking for shelter for his wife heavy with child and being rejected by everybody led on this festive day to the tradition of offering food and hospitality to the poorest. The table was blessed by the priest and the poor were served first.

Another tradition of celebrating San Giuseppe on 19 March began in Sicilyin the Middle Ages during a terrible drought. People prayed San Giuseppe to help them, and rain came. In gratitude, huge banquet tables were prepared and anybody was invited to eat as much as they wanted.

In many Italian localities the feast was often associated to bonfires and preparing (and eating) zeppole.

Italy Heritage

What Are Zeppoles?

Move over corned beef and ham; St. Joseph’s day has much better food than St. Patrick’s day, which makes sense because it literally is a feast!

“St. Joseph, or San Giuseppe in Italian, was — fun fact (or legend, at any rate) — the original Fred the Baker! No, seriously, one story about St. Joe has it that after the flight into Egypt, it was “time to make the donuts” so he could support his family. According to NonnaBox, the donuts produced by this carpenter-turned-confectioner were a huge hit with even the hard-to-please Romans, so today he is remembered with a donut-like pastry bearing his name.”


Zeppoles are more like cream puffs than donuts made with choux pastry that is baked or deep-fried. Plus, they are stuffed with a sweet, creamy filling. You can use pastry cream or a custard filling or a concoction made of sweetened ricotta used in cannoli.

How to Celebrate St. Joseph’s Day?

St. Joseph’s Day is very popular in New Orleans, where there are many descendants of Sicilian immigrants. This day is best associated with the types of pastries served. The popular ones are zeppole (doughnuts) and sfinge (cream puffs). Lemons are considered lucky, while meat is typically absent during the feast.

I actually discovered this holiday because I live in Warwick, Rhode Island, and our new mayor, Frank Picozzi, is Italian-American.

What Is St. Joseph's Day?, What Is St. Joseph’s Day? Who, When, & Why?, The Travel Bug Bite

Of course, a great way to celebrate is to have a feast and enjoy the traditional pastries! However, don’t forget about the origins of the holiday. Consider donating some food or volunteering for a soup kitchen. Make St. Joseph proud by helping feed the hungry just like he did!

Summary: What Is St. Joseph’s Day?

It is a little crazy that St. Patrick’s day gets all the buzz when Ireland has a significantly smaller population than Italy. Other saints also seem to overshadow Jesus Christ’s stepdad. St. ValentineSweden’s St. Lucia, and St. Martin’s day in the Czech Republic are examples of popular holidays featuring saints. Nevertheless, you now know all about St. Joseph, and hopefully, you’ll get a chance to enjoy a zeppole and feed those in need on this historic day!

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What Is St. Joseph's Day?, What Is St. Joseph’s Day? Who, When, & Why?, The Travel Bug Bite

What Is St. Joseph's Day?, What Is St. Joseph’s Day? Who, When, & Why?, The Travel Bug Bite

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