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St. Joseph's Day - March 19

In New Orleans, Italian familes celebrated with St. Joseph's Altars in homes with tables laden with food. Always with the statue of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus. Everyone had cooked for days. The parish priest came by to bless it and we all ate and drank to our hearts' content. There was a dispensation from the rules of fasting and abstinence of Lent (St. Joseph's Day always falls during Lent) so we could eat sweets and meat and have alcohol.

How is St. Joseph's Day celebrated in other Italian communities?

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  1. Zepolle ... zepolle ... zepolle

    Be sure to stop by your local Italian bakery for these, in many cases, once-a-year Italian donuts.

    1. zeppoli filled with sweet custard are in all the italian bakeries here right now.

      1. For many in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, the feast day is about getting to a good Italian bakery and eating a zeppole or sfinge for San Giuseppe ...


        also ---> ... ... ... http://www.lentinionline.it/cucina/sf...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Cheese Boy

          How funny, Cheese Boy, the first picture you link to was taken by my husband. Small (virtual) world. Here's the whole post on how we spent last St. Joseph's Day:

          We'll probably pick up a few zeppole again tomorrow, since that bakery is about 3 blocks from our house (in Chicago).

          1. re: Amata

            Chicago does the feast of Saint Joseph some justice, Amata.

            Those zeppoles look PERFECT. Your husband did well. Enjoy the feast day!

        2. We were at the parade in NOLA and it was a hoot! My daughters got several kisses and flowers from the Italian guys.

          1. http://www.philly.com/inquirer/food/2...

            The Philadelphia metro area isn't historically that into St. J's day, but this article was very interesting.


            "In Sicily, where the tradition originates, the scene features children dressed as Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, and the Guardian Angel as they recite the couple's flight to safety and the Christmas story.

            The meatless dishes reflect Joseph's humble stock: a crusty, dense, sesame-covered bread shaped in symbols like a cross, circle and Joseph's staff; pasta con sarde (a tomato sauce with sardines) sprinkled with fried bread crumbs (a poor man's cheese); frittata made with broccoli, cauliflower or other vegetables; and an array of flowers, fruits and sweets including pastries like spingi and zeppole.

            Not all Italians celebrate St. Joseph's Day. It appears to be regional even in Sicily, where the tradition continues in the provinces of Agrigento, Enna and Siracusa."

            1. This is fascinating to me, as I was unaware that celebrating St Joseph's day was a tradition anywhere except in my immediate family. Our family legend is that when my great grandfather was a little boy in Italy, he was playing at a construction site, and fell and was hurt and almost died. My great-great grandfather prayed to St Joseph, the patron saint of children, to save him. He lived (although he was blind), and in gratitude, my family prepared a feast each St Joseph's day for the orphans in the village. As the family emigrated to America, the tradition of the feast continued, but with family and friends instead of feeding orphans. The traditional meal is always pasta fagiole, stuffed artichokes, cod fish cakes, orange slices, and zeppole for dessert.

              1. Here's a topic from last year that discusses some of the baked goods

                St. Joseph's Day bread - a plain roll with fennel.

                Sfinge - They are sometimes made of split fried zeppole & sometimes baked pastry made in both the round & the tapered rectangle shape.Sometimes the sfinge are garnished with a strip of candied fruit to symnbolize an anchovy

                St Joseph's zeppole are filled with custard, usually round like a doughnut, made from pate choux and fried. (there are different kinds of zeppole)

                1. St. Joseph's Day was a really big deal among the old Italian families in New Orleans, long before the current parades started. New Orleans, of course, will have a parade and celebration for about anything. The spreads were way beyond a few doughnuts! And those families could cook! I think most of them were from Southern Italy and Sicily. Every kind of pasta and meat and fish dish you could imagine! Everyone was given a dried fava bean to carry with them for the coming year - so that they wouldn't be poor. My mother always kept hers in her wallet.
                  I got married on St. Joseph's Day because it was the only day in Lent that the Church allowed a Nuptial Mass.
                  I never realized that other Italian communities passed up a good chance for a celebration. Guess it's just that New Orleans never does.

                  1. My Sicilian MIL always buys St. Joseph's bread, which are large rolls with fennel in them. The only problem is by the time she gets them to us, they are bordering on stale or freezer burnt because we don't live near her. But she keeps insisting, because my husband, her son, is named after St. Joseph, so it's a HUGE big deal to her.

                    She also used to make Pasta con Sarde, but since her husband passed, nobody else in the family likes it as much as he did, so that went out the window.

                    1. Anybody make rice fritters for March 19? My mother was from the Lucca area and she made rice fritters (frittelle) for St. Joseph's day. The rice was cooked in milk and little grated orange and liqueur was added. Then it drained for several hours before being shaped in little fritters and deep fried. Sprinkled with powdered sugar, it was a once-a-year treat.