Christian: Wear red, eat fava beans for St. Joseph’s Day

When a fava bean crop like this one saved Sicilians in the Middle Ages, the bean became a staple food for St. Joseph’s Day.MONDAY, MARCH 19: Trade in that leftover St. Patrick’s Day green for some red today—it’s the Feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and father of Jesus.


St. Joseph Altars typically display rich dishes prepared by parishioners in their homes. The tradition continues in many parishes around the world. This altar arrangement features homemade cakes brought to the St. Bernard Community Center, which is in St. Bernard Parish near the eastern tip of Louisiana. Photo by Billy Brown, released via Wikimedia Commons.Mary is the focus of many Christian feasts, festivals and pilgrimages, including a big salute during Mothering Sunday, yesterday. But her husband? As a saint, Joseph is more frequently seen in real estate, these days—but more on that later. Within Christianity, Joseph traditionally has been revered as Jesus’ earthly father, noted for his courage, his grace in the midst of controversy and his obedient wisdom as a man of faith. First, he married a questionable virgin (Joseph didn’t accept Mary’s purity until an angel came to him); he dutifully moved his family when asked; and he passed on his humble line of work to the Son. (Wikipedia has details.) Jesus was sometimes referred to as “the carpenter’s son.” Through the years, Joseph became known as the protector of not only the Holy Family but of the entire Christian Church. (Get a Catholic perspectives, plus recipes and customs for the day, from FishEaters.)

Travel to Italy if you’re looking for the biggest St. Joseph party today, because Italians—and Sicilians, in particular—honor this patriarch as their patron saint. It was during the Middle Ages that Sicilians called fervently for help from St. Joseph during a catastrophic famine; when rain finally came, they prepared the feast they had promised him—and haven’t stopped celebrating since. The fava bean was the crop that saved the population, and even today, fava bean dishes are considered lucky on St. Joseph’s Day. (Looking for some fava bean recipes? Find one at AllRecipes.) Sharing with the hungry also remains a popular St. Joseph’s Day activity.

Across the world in the U.S., New Orleans boasts its own St. Joseph’s Day party of sizeable mention. St. Joseph altars are constructed in homes, set up at Italian restaurants and businesses, and, of course, in churches, across the city. (Check out more at this New Orleans site.) A grand parade and costumes top off the day in this hot Louisiana city.


Officially, the Catholic church dismisses the burial of a St. Joseph statue to sell a home as superstition. That doesn’t stop dozens of vendors from marketing an army of little St. Joseph statues, often made of cheap plastic. Lots of websites with little connection to any church are hawking sure-fire kits to move your home in a hurry with the help of a little St. Joseph and a shovel.

That’s not to say our relocating readers aren’t willing to try everything to unload their homes in these tight economic times. Scanning the various St. Joseph options for real estate, we spotted an environmentally friendly version, which is sold by Amazon: ECO-JOE, the St Joseph Staute that’s Eco-Friendly.Why is this little Joseph “green”? Because he’s made of clay and naturally merges into the soil of your home.

Is it silly superstition? Is it a legitimate expression of faith? We’re not making a judgment. We’re simply reporting on the most frequently venerated form of St. Joesph these days.

Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.


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