St. Joseph’s Day – The History & Dessert


Often overshadowed in America by the more widely celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, St. Joseph’s Day is celebration all it’s own. March 19th is recognized as the Feast of Saint Joseph, husband of the blessed Virgin Mary and father of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated in the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican Churches throughout the world; however, in United States, it is not a holy day of obligation.


Italy & St. Joseph’s Day

During the middle ages it is said Sicily was on the verge of famine. During a severe drought, the people prayed to St Joseph to bring them rain. They promised if their prayers were met that they would honor the Saint with a large feast. Their prayers were met and fava beans were the crop that saved them from starvation. Because of this it is common to put fava beans on alters during this celebration and it is custom to make an ancient soup made with fava beans as a part of the feast.


Italian American’s & St. Joseph’s Day

As the US has many Italian immigrants, they have made their own traditions surrounding the day here, to celebrate their Italian history.

During the late 19th century New Orleans had a large influx of Sicilian immigrants. Like Mardis Gras, there are large parades and public & private parties to celebrate St. Joseph.  You will often find altars at Churches & in public locations throughout the city to pay homage to the Saint, and any food left is donated. It is custom to donate food to the needy surrounding this day.

Throughout much of NY, NJ & various other cities where there are large Italian American populations, festivities ensue as well. Red is the color associated with this holiday, as green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day, so it is common to see many Italians dressed in red.


The Food

Since March 19th falls during lent, a time of abstinence, the feast of St. Joseph traditionally includes meatless dishes.  And while you will see fava beans, in Italy they often enjoy pastries as a part of their feast – this is where our expertise comes in! We make our St. Joseph’s Day Sfinges with a light pate a choux pastry which is then filled with various fillings. At Apple Annie’s Bake Shop we offer sfinges filled with cannoli cream, black cherry, classic custard, or chocolate custard.