Today is the day when all those named Giuseppe (Joseph), Giuseppina (Josephine), etc., celebrate their onomastico, or name day.
In Italy, Spain and Portugal March 19th is also known as Father’s Day as Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary and stepfather of Jesus.
It is said that Sicilians, affected by severe drought, prayed to Joseph to save them. Shortly after the drought ended and the Sicilians were spared. To honour him it is customary for all to wear red today, which is similar to wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.
Foods and Traditions
Today’s meals often consist of meatless options such as minestrone or fava beans which are considered lucky as they were not affected by drought as were the other crops. Since Joseph was a carpenter, foods made with breadcrumbs [representing sawdust] such as pasta with breadcrumbs are also a popular meal. Fish is also often eaten.
Of course no feast would be complete without the famous zeppole which are actually a cream puff type dessert filled with ricotta or some other variation of cream depending on which region you are from. In Calabria they are called ‘ zippoli‘ and they are simply fried dough which are sometimes filled with anchovies.