Polish St Joseph’s Day and breaking of Lent

March 14, 2020 | Heritage

If for you Lent is already dragging on and worries about coronavirus are getting you down, there’s one day coming up when all Lenten obligations are thrown off and weddings, celebrations and other feasts can take place. St Joseph’s Day on March 19th.

It is traditionally a day for happiness, excessive food and most importantly parties, not usually organised in catholic countries during Lent. If you want to get married during Lent, this is the only day you can do so, although of course it rarely falls on a Saturday.

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Saint Joseph’s is seen as the father of all saints and his day is celebrated with great ceremony on 19 March in the catholic, anglican and evangelical churches. In the orthodox church it is celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas. 1 May is also the day of St. Joseph the worker, proclaimed so by Pope Pius XII in 1955, when communist authorities in countries like Poland had begun celebrating International Workers Day. The Pope gave the day a religious character to counter its socialist beginnings.

Celebration of the day is older than you think as it dates back to Kraków in the XII century and due to St Joseph’s significance in the church it has become a ‘day off’ from Lent. He is the patron saint of families, fathers, pregnant women, the dying and workers. There are more than a few sayings related to St Joseph in Polish including this one:

Grégoire Bertaud on Unsplash

„Gdy na Józefa bociek przybędzie, śniegu już nie będzie” “When the stork flies in for St. Joseph’s the snow won’t return”

If you happen to be in Italy on this day or have Italian connections, as well as being Father’s day particularly in Sicily, it’s known as the day of San Giuseppe Zeppole cakesfried cream puffs, on the basis that upon fleeing to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, St. Joseph had to provide for the family, doing this by selling pastries which are now baked in his honour. They are similar to pączki (polish doughnuts) made on Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday) before Lent but with delicious crema pasticceria. Worth a try with this recipe from mangamania! Alternatively make pączki, faworki, another type of cake or just indulge yourself for a day!

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