St. Joseph’s Day – A Hidden Treasure

March 19, 2022

Joanne Natale Spigonardo

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

If you are originally from Italy, or an Italian American, you’ve certainly celebrated St. Joseph’s Day! It is the traditional Father’s Day in Italy, where everyone honors their own fathers as well as St. Joseph the father to us all. On March 19, everyone who is Italian, or would like to be, celebrates in some special way or maintains long-standing family traditions.

In Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated with a huge family dinner, to include extended families, especially Godfathers and special Uncles that are important in one’s life. Like all wonderful celebrations, St. Joseph’s Day includes wonderful food. The festivities usually include grilled meats, like spring lamb and goat. The antipasto consists of beautiful fresh mellanzane (egg plant) and verdure (green vegetables), with a compliment of delectable cheeses like gorgonzola and peccorino. In addition, special pastas like paglia e fieno (wheat and hay) are part of the menu. Fava beans are also eaten on St. Joseph’s day.

St. Joseph’s Day is highly celebrated in Sicily as well, where St. Joseph is the patron saint. The St. Joseph novena is said 9 days before the feast day to bring on a fertile spring, and to ward off droughts and bad weather. There are many parades and festivals in the small villages surrounding Palermo and Agrigento.

On St. Joseph’s day in America, Italian neighbors and their pastry shops begin making the beloved Zeppole di San Giuseppe, or St. Joseph Day cakes weeks prior to the feast day. They are usually plain, or filled with vanilla or chocolate cream, but the most delicious for most people are the ones filled with ricotta and chocolate chips. Our family tradition included making all of these special treats and always embracing this special day. Saint Joseph’s day was always a day we could break Lent, and because it is just a few days before spring, it is a true respite of festivity after a long winter. Hope you will celebrate it this year!

About the Author:

Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty.  She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon.  For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page:

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants.

3 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Day – A Hidden Treasure

  1. Wonderful story. My mother taught me this feast day because her mother was named Josephine. My father’s middle name is Joseph and my oldest son’s first name is Joseph.

    We wish Frank and you a blessed day with lots of good good,

    All our best, Neil and Denise

    Sent from my iPhone



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