Feast Day: March 19 / 19. Marca
In Poland, it is customary to celebrate "Imienien" or Namesday, the feast day of one's patron saint. To allow the many Josephs to celebrate their namesday, the Church would grant a dispensation from the rigors of Lent on March 19. Because St. Joseph's Day is a Lenten solemnity, the tradition has been to serve meatless foods so that the meal becomes a "festive fast." St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, patron of families, patron of workers, patron of social justice, patron of the dying, and patron of fathers, is a very important and beloved saint.
Iconography of St. Joseph
Images of St. Joseph most often depict him with the child Jesus in his arms, with the Holy Family, at a work table, with carpenter's tools, or with a lily.
* Dla Dzieci / For Kids: St. Joseph to Print & Color
Hymn to St. Joseph
The Poles have many hymns in honor of St. Joseph.
* Listen to / Sheet music for: Duszo moja (Ku czci sw. Jozefa)
(My Soul [In Honor of St. Joseph])
* Listen to / Sheet music for: O Jozefie Ukochany
* Listen to / Sheet music for: Szczesliwy, Kto Sobie Patrona
Prayer for a Happy Death (to St. Joseph)
O Glorious St. Joseph, behold I choose thee today for my special
patron in life and at the hour of my death. Preserve and increase
in me the spirit of prayer and fervor in the service of God. Remove far from me every kind of sin; obtain for me that my death may not come upon me unawares, but that I may have time to confess my sins sacramentally and to bewail them with a most perfect understanding and a most sincere and perfect contrition, in order that I may breathe forth my soul to the hands of Jesus and Mary. Amen.
St. Joseph's Day Proverb
Swiety Jozef kiwnie broda, idzie zima nadol z woda.
St. Joseph shakes his beard, and see: Winter's disappeared!
The Litany of St. Joseph
Poles are very fond of prayer via Litany (Litanie). Litanies are often chanted, a form of prayer made to be repeated: one phrase coming over and over again so that the person(s) praying is(are) caught up in the prayer itself. The Litany of the Saints is chanted on Easter Vigil, the Litany of St. Joseph, especially on his Feast Day.
* Full bi-lingual (Eng/Pol) Text of the Litany of Saint Joseph
St. Joseph's Day in Chicago Polonia: A Polish-American Hybrid
While Poles most certainly honor and revere St. Joseph, in American Polonia these values have flourished in interesting and hybrid ways. Especially in the earlier waves of immigration (1890s - 1930s), Polish and Italian immigrants were faced with an American Catholic church hierarchy controlled largely by Irish clergy, most often unsympathetic to the newcomers whom they often regarded as inferior, primitive, overly demonstrative, and superstitious. In the face of this disdain for Southern and Eastern European Catholicism, Poles responded by forming their own Polish language parishes (i.e. St. Stanislaus Kostka in Chicago) while Italians responded by preserving their religious traditions in the form of "Feasts" (Festa) run by patronage societies from their home villages and cities. This tension found curious expression in Chicago, America's largest Catholic Archdiocese.
Run by a largely Irish political and church elite, the city visibly celebrated the Feast of St. Patrick on March 17. In Chicago, this included a prominent parade and turning the Chicago River green. In multi-ethnic parochial schools this found expression in "the wearing of the green" visually marking those of Irish heritage. As is often the case in diasporic immigrant culture, the importance of St. Joseph's Day escalated and found new significance in a new context. In immigrant Polish and Italian communities this provided an alternative form of cultural identification and expression of loyalty. Just two short days later, Polish and Italian Americans dressed in red, celebrating their patron and publicly showing their ethnic identity. (Both national flags include this color as opposed to the Irish green). Especially in those of school age, this created a curious linking of the two ethnic groups, who identified against the traditions of the Irish. (The author is indebted to Mrs. D'Matteo who has created a St. Joseph's Day table in her childhood parish for over 40 years.)
Along with this new festive significance came a blending of ethnic traditions. The ancient Sicilian custom of tavole di San Giuseppe [St. Joseph's tables: an elaborate feast complete with home altar to St. Joseph and emphasis on feeding the poor] was celebrated in Italian parishes and homes, multi-ethnic parishes with Italians and Poles, and eventually throughout the city of Chicago's Catholic community. The traditional Italian Giuseppe cake (zeppole) (often called s'fingi on the East Coast) is found in Italian bakeries and restaurants throughout Chicago on that day, but is consumed by many Poles as well! The St. Joseph's table most often includes a statue of the saint with flowers, holy cards of St. Joseph, a bowl for free-will donations to be given to the needy, and sometimes a special St. Joseph's bread formed in the shape of the staff of St. Joseph. The bread is blessed ceremoniously before the feasting begins.
Having formed our identity in the cauldron of Chicago and Milwaukee's parochial schools, our Polish-American family celebrates St. Joseph's Day with a St. Joseph's Table in our home, which is decorated with red and white for the saint and for Poland. Holy cards and St. Joseph candles adorn the dining areas. Our American Polskosc (Polishness) requires zeppole from Il Giardino Bakery on Harlem Avenue in Chicago as well as Sicilian St. Joseph's pasta (meatless, of course) alongside the pierogi and makowiec (Poppy Seed Cake)!
* David's recipe for St. Joseph's pasta (Perciatelli con la Sarde)
* Visit our Home Altar to St. Joseph & say a Novena Prayer
* See Chicago Bakeries and Zeppole
The Prayer of Blessing for the St. Joseph's Table
the good things that grace this table
remind us of your many good gifts.
Bless this food,
and may the prayers of St. Joseph
who provided bread for your Son and food for the poor,
sustain us and all our brothers and sisters
on your journey toward your heavenly kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
External St. Joseph Links
* A Virtual St. Joseph's Altar
* Sicilian St. Joseph's Altars in New Orleans
* The Italian Feast of St. Joseph (with more links)
* New York Feast website (with pastry shop listings!)