San Giuseppe

St. Joseph Real Estate Spell

The solemn tradition of burying St. Joseph in the earth began hundreds of years ago in Europe. During those times, an order of nuns prayed to St. Joseph (the patron saint of the family and household needs) when they needed more lands for convents. The Sisters were encouraged to bury their St. Joseph medals in the ground.

The medals evolved into statues, culminating with the St Joseph Real Estate Kits currently available in Catholic supply stores. Today, thousands of people all over the world continue this successful tradition; they are looking for a little divine intervention. Be it fact or be it fiction, it's worked more than once.

Bury a statue of St. Joseph with a piece of paper describing in explicit detail your asking price wrapped in a handkerchief, face down in your front yard until your house has sold. If you like, you can also light a candle with the same intention carved into it daily until your house is sold. However it has been reported to me that if you bury the statue and completely forget about it, it still works!

(Don't worry too much about the size of the statue.)


Profile & Life Story of Saint Joseph

Earthly Husband of the Virgin Mary
Adoptive Father of Jesus Christ (some say Foster Father)
Patron Saint of numerous causes & people 
He was a carpenter
He most likely passed away before Jesus.

Patronage Profile

against doubt, cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, Sicily, China, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, happy death, holy death, house hunters, Korea, laborers, Mexico, New France (Quebec), people in doubt, Peru, pioneers, protector of the Church, social justice, travelers, Universal Church, Vatican II, Viet Nam, workers, working people

Feast Days

Two separate & distinct feast days are celebrated for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.

My Saint Joseph Tradition inspired by my relatives from Avellino

MARCH 19- I set up an altar very similar to the one described by Buona below, but most likely on a smaller scale. There is always a statue or a portrait of San Giuseppe, citrus fruit which was bountiful in that region, and is available year-round where I live. Almonds, almond biscotti or amaretti, amaretto liqueur or whatever we have on hand.

The traditional pastry made specifically on the Feast of St. Joseph is what is customary in the region of Campania, specifically the province of Avellino because my relatives from this region passed the tradition on to me. These pastries are called Zeppole. One variation we make is  filled with pastry cream and a dab of sour cherry preserves (Amarena). The symbology is pretty simple:

The Zeppole, very much like life, is bittersweet.

Historically, the size of the 'feast' was commensurate with the size of the harvest the previous year, instead of celebrating the saint's day in order to insure a good crop the coming year. This is a prime example of the relationship Italians have with their patron saints. As long as the saint intercedes in their favour, he/she is rewarded with love and adoration. If their beloved saint does not deliver the goods, they withhold the love.

It goes without saying that if you don't live in Avellino, or don't have access to the 'traditional' foods, use what is available locally when preparing foods for feast days. This ensures that your ingredients are fresh and your meal will be a success. Saint Joseph isn't checking out your spread and judging whether or not you are following the tradition to the letter. Trust me, it is what is in your heart that counts.


March 19: Sicilian St. Joseph Tradition by Buona
On this day, Sicilians decorate altars made to honor the Patron Saint of carpenters and fathers.  The altars consist of three levels that represent the Holy Trinity and are filled with an abundance of food, pastries, fruit, and flowers, however contains no meat due to the Lenten season.  These altars are created by Sicilians to give thanks to St. Joseph for good fortune, to fulfill a promise or just to share with those who are less fortunate.  The tradition is said to date back to the Middle Ages when Sicily was hit with a severe drought, and famine.  Sicilians throughout the region prayed to St. Joseph for help.  Once prayers where answered, they promised to erect an altar in his honor and provide a feast to feed the poor and less fortunate.  Since that time traditions have remained true and Sicilians celebrate St. Joseph's Day in this fashion.

Just thought I would share with you an excerpt from a journal I am keeping to pass down to my daughter.  The Feast of St Joseph was very important to us. although nowadays people only look to bury his statue upside down in the front yard when they are trying to sell their house.

La Feste di San Giuseppe is like no other.  The patron saint of Sicily, the story goes, that in the midst of a great famine/drought the people prayed to San Giuseppe (patron saint of families) to spare them from the inevitable death by starvation.  In return they would honor him every year with a great feast.  Soon the rains came and the vineyards flourished, orchards filled with fruit and the farmlands yielded vast amounts of vegetables.  The people of Sicily were saved and the vow was made to share their good fortune with others.  This, Grandma would say, was the basis of her life's philosophy, Fa Lemosina (take only what you need and give the rest away).  Every year she would prepare a St. Joseph Altar.  With a statue of St. Joseph prominently placed in the center of the table, she and my mother would fill the table with citrus fruits and breads and little cookies and cakes.  There would also be artichokes (you must get through the thorns to get to the sweetness of the heart so much like life she would say), olives and fava beans. The beautiful white tablecloth would be sprinkled with Mudica (toasted bread crumbs), symbolic of the sawdust of carpenters.  In the "old days" she told me, as a girl in Sicily, the children would play a little game called Tupa, Tupa (Knock, knock).  There the children would go from house to house, knocking on doors, asking for a fava bean. (It was believed that the dried fava bean would bring you luck.)  Pre-arranged with the neighbors, the children would be refused at the first two houses.  At the third house, the doors would be opened and the children would be invited inside.  Once inside the children would say a little prayer to St. Joseph and then be invited to take food from the St. Joseph Altar as long as they promised to share their good fortune with others.  So many, many years later, I can still remember people stopping by our house all day long, to admire the altar, to say a little prayer,  to share in a cup of espresso and to leave with a little bag containing a piece of blessed bread, some cookies and fruit and yes, the lucky fava bean. 

Every region of Sicily, has its own particular menu for St. Joseph for us it is Pasta con Sarde. 



From FESTA , Helen Barloni, 1988.
Italy's people have a great love of many things: the arts, their history, and their customs and traditions. One tradition they hold especially dear is their devotion to their local patron saints. Their homage to them include elaborate festas and incredible food.

On March 19th, the Festa San Giuseppe takes place. Although traditionally it began in Sicily, the Feast of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph) is now celebrated throughout most of Italy. According to legend, during the Middle Ages a terrible drought and famine plagued the people of Sicily. It virtually destroyed most of their crops and many people in the western part of Sicily died of starvation. The people began praying to St. Joseph and begged for his intercession to their plight. In return they promised to celebrate his feast day by having special altars abundant in food that would be shared with all people rich and poor as their thanksgiving to him.

At midnight on March 19th the prayers of Sicily's children were answered. The rains came and the land which had been browned and barren were now lush and green again. Sicily's people has kept their promise to San Giuseppe through the generations by preparing elaborate food altars. In Sicily olive branches hung over doorways signify that a St. Joseph Altar is being held.)

 Since the Festa di San Giuseppe is celebrated during the Lenten season the foods prepared do not contain meat. The main focus surrounds the variety, shapes and designs of breads made for this feast. There are three breads that honor the Holy Family. The bread for St. Joseph is in the shape of a staff. According to legend, the staff of St. Joseph bloomed with entwining flower blossoms which singled him out from Mary's other suitors as her husband-to-be. (1) St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and breadcrumbs signify sawdust.

The bread for Mary is in the shape of a date palm and a wreath with a star in the center represents Jesus. These three breads are placed upon an altar that has been created using the finest linens, and decorated with flowers (especially the St. Joseph Lily,) statues, candles and pictures. The staff bread of St. Joseph is placed on the left, the date palm bread of Mary is placed on the right, and the the wreath-star bread or a cross representing Jesus is placed in the middle.

The foods presented on the San Giuseppe table will include many different types of seafood (fried shrimp, calamari, fried baccala'), vegetables of all kinds that will be either stuffed, fried, or parts of an omlette.) Speaking of will find some of the most scrumptious omelettes at a San Giuseppe table. Omlettes (frittatas) with vegetables like artichokes, cardoons (burdock), asparagus, broccoli, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and beans. Dried fava beans are a reminder of the great drought.

Desserts are also in great abundance. You will find a wide assortment of pastries, fruit, fritters, doughnuts and cakes on a St. Joseph Table. They are elegant and oh sooooooo good!!