By Colleen Pressprich
St. Joseph is celebrated during many feast days throughout the year, but the most important one happens on March 19th. (This year, 2023, we are celebrating on March 20 since the liturgy of the Lenten Sundays take precedence.) Here’s what you need to know to celebrate this great day.
Some Important Facts About Joseph
Joseph was the foster father of Jesus. A carpenter by trade, he supported and protected the Holy Family throughout Jesus’ childhood, including during the family’s flight and exile into Egypt. He is written about in the Gospels as a righteous man of strong faith. In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew, there are four instances where an angel appears to Joseph to relay God’s message for the Holy Family to him.
Why do we celebrate St. Joseph on March 19th?
The history of this particular feast day can be traced back to drought accompanied by a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. The deeply Catholic region turned to St. Joseph with their prayers to save themselves from starvation. In return, they promised him a feast with special prayers, devotions, and a table filled with food in his honor. St. Joseph’s intercession was credited when abundant spring rains fell soon after. Hence, the feast day is in the spring.
How to celebrate St. Joseph’s feast day
Even though the feast has grown to be a worldwide celebration within the Church, we can still see its Italian roots in the traditional feast day activities.
One of the easiest ways to celebrate St. Joseph is to wear red on his feast day. This is a color long associated with him (and is also one of the colors of the Italian flag).
Set up a St. Joseph Altar
Families with a devotion to St. Joseph will set up an altar to him ahead of his feast day. This is easier than it sounds – a beautiful red tablecloth (or white if you don’t have red) draped over a side table can be adorned with a statue of the saint. The brilliant thing about making a St. Joseph altar is that we all already have a statue of him, we just have to dig back out our nativity set. To add extra meaning and beauty, you could include a vase of lilies, the flower that symbolizes St. Joseph.
Donate food to the poor
Because the feast that we celebrate on March 19th came about as a result of a famine, it is a common practice for families to donate food for the poor in St. Joseph’s honor. To take it a step further, if you’re a part of a parish, a school, a homeschool co-op, or a small group, you could set up a collection for a local food bank. You can also consider spending some time volunteering at a soup kitchen in his honor.
I hope you’ve found this information helpful as you prepare to celebrate this important saint!
Colleen Pressprich is a homeschooling mom of four and author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children and The Women Doctors of the Church (Spring 2022, OSV). She blogs at elevatortoheaven.com.