Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy St. Josephs 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. That means the feasting for St. Joseph's Day is done without meat. Italian recipes include pastas, fish, sweets, breads and fava beans. 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.

• Italian Catholics and many descendants of Italian immigrants prepare St. Joseph Tables, tavole di San Giuseppe, set to honor St. Joseph. They are filled with beautiful and often elaborate foods, including meatless dishes such as stuffed artichokes, pasta and fish, as well as breads, cookies, pastries, cakes and other delicacies.

• St. Joseph Tables are placed in both churches and homes. Each table is blessed by a priest and presided over by a statue of St. Joseph. A stalk of lily blossoms, votive candles and a lace tablecloth are typically used to decorate the feast table.

• Notices are posted in newspapers and in other media inviting the public to view and partake of the traditional meal of pasta Milanese. Participants often leave donations at the table.

• Special groups such as orphans, the elderly or the homeless are invited to share in the feast. At the end of St. Joseph's Day, leftover food is sold or given away, and any money earned is donated to the poor.

• 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.

• St. Joseph is the patron of workers and those in need of work. Prayers for the unemployed are often included in the traditions of March 19th celebrations.

• Burying a statue of St. Joseph in your yard on March 19th is said to help in selling your home and finding a new one. There are even special kits that are marketed for this, although most would say that a prayer would do just as well!

The feast day of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19 every year. In 2007, St. Joseph's Day is on Monday.

St. Joseph's Day is a Roman Catholic feast day commemorating the life of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Those with strong religious associations, most often those of European descent, typically celebrate St. Joseph's Day.

Greeting cards with a spiritual focus and a light blessing are used to commemorate St. Joseph's Day. In the United States, Hallmark offers four St. Joseph's Day cards.

In many countries St. Joseph's Day is a national holiday.

Those who visit a St. Joseph's table, often receive gifts of fava beans and breads. Fava beans play an integral part of the celebration because this was the food that saved the Sicilians from starvation. The bean is said to bring good luck, and it is believed that if the St. Joseph's bread is kept in the home, the family will never starve.

Many Italian St. Joseph's Day traditions stem from the middle ages. During a famine in Sicily, when food was scarce and many people were starving, the poor people had only their faith to rely on. St. Joseph was known as the protector of the Holy Family; thus, Italians with strong family relationships prayed for St. Joseph to intercede for them, in an effort to ensure successful crops. Their prayers were answered, and the famine came to an end. In gratitude, people promised to make annual offerings of their most precious possession – food – in St. Joseph's honor.

Little is said in the gospel about Joseph, except that he was a descendant of David and a carpenter by trade. Legends provide additional details about Joseph's life. He supposedly was a widower of advanced age when he was chosen by God to wed Mary.

According to one legend, Mary's many suitors left their staffs in the temple one night so that God could indicate who she should marry. The next morning, Joseph's staff blossomed with white flowers and leaves and sent forth a white dove, indicating that he was the chosen one. This explains why statues of St. Joseph typically show him holding the Christ Child and a stalk of white lilies and why this day is a common celebration of fathers throughout the Christian world.

March 19 is said to be St. Joseph's birthday and is celebrated as St. Joseph's Day.

The feast of St. Joseph also marks the beginning of spring in many countries. One Czech proverb, Pekne-li na Svatého Josefa, bývá dobrý rok...

Or, If it is nice on St. Joseph's Day, it will usually be a good year


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