In Italy this day is known as “La Festa di San Giuseppe”. St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of Sicily and in many American-Italian communities. On this day people show their gratitude to St. Joseph because: In the Middle Ages, there was a servere drought, so the people prayed to St. Joseph for rain with an oath to honor him with a large feast if their prayers were answered. The skies opened up with rain, a famine was prevented, and the people of Sicily kept their promise by preparing a massive banquet for St. Joseph. Everyone participated, including the needy.
The good news does not stop there. On this day, it is still tradition for Italians to give food to the poor and needy, in addition to placing fava beans (the crop that helped prevent starvation during the drought) on altars created for St. Joseph.
A very special food made by Italians is called “Cuccadati” which are beautiful bread loaves that are decorated in designs symbolic of a crown of thorns or other spiritual symbols of the Church. These cover latticework known as La Vastedde, along with lemons, limes, oranges, bay leaves, and myrtle branches.
In the United States, St. Joseph is honored in larger metropolitan cities where there is a high population of Italians. . . New Orleans, especially, because it is the port where many Sicilians entered America. Buffalo, NY, New York City, Chicago, and Kansas City also have public and private St. Joseph’s altars constructed. A parade also takes place in New Orleans.