March 19, 2022
Joanne Natale Spigonardo
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. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB. For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanne-spigonardo-b4824a9/.