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Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Following closely on the heals of St. Patrick’s Day, today is St. Joseph’s Day – my patron Saint’s day.  In celebration of the day I decided I would bake a traditional St. Joseph’s Day Bread.

Baking bread for St. Joseph’s Day actually goes back to the Middle Ages. During a Medieval drought and famine, no rain fell on Sicily, and food crops for humans and livestock withered and died.  The people of Sicily prayed to their patron Saint – St. Joseph - to help them.  Their prayers were answered, and the skies poured 
down the much needed rains.

I'm not sure why, but red is the color traditionally worn on St. Joseph's Day, 
and so these items (mostly from Brooks Bothers) have found their way into my outfit today.  Please leave me a message below if you know the origins of wearing red today.

In thanksgiving for the harvest that ensued, the people built an altar to St. Joseph, and filled it with a wide variety of foods in his honor.  The food was then blessed and later distributed to the poor.  From this humble beginning, this tradition continued to grow and has been handed down to us today.

This is a typical St. Joseph's table.  
Note the elaborate heart, fish, and wreath shapes of the breads.  
(Image from

A traditional St. Joseph’s Altar has three tiers – representing the Trinity – and is filled with many different kinds of food, however, various breads are the main items.  These breads are baked into elaborate shapes that often represent scriptural symbols – especially those related to St. Joseph.  A quick search online produced what seems to be generally held as a traditional St. Joseph’s Day Bread recipe – this recipe turned up on numerous websites.

I’ve never baked bread from scratch before so this was a new experience for me.  The recipe was fairly simple, and I think it turned out fairly well for my first attempt. It certainly tasted good.

This is my first attempt at making a traditional St. Joseph's Day Bread.  
Though not as elaborate as some, it was still delicious!

The breads blessed on a St. Joseph’s table are always shared with the poor, and so I took my bread to work and shared it with my co-workers.  While they may not technically be “the poor,” they did enjoy the thoughtful gesture and treat.  They also were able to learn a little bit more about this wonderful Italian tradition that celebrates my patron Saint, St. Joseph.

  (Image at the top from


  1. St. Joseph's Day is a big Feast for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph's intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought. So in his honor, the custom is for all to wear red, in the same way that green is worn on St. Patrick's Day.

  2. Thanks Mike. While I know the story behind why we celebrate the day, what I don't is why the color red was chosen. Is there some significance with red, or was it just randomly chosen?