Traditions

St. Joseph’s Day Altars In New Orleans

March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day. New Orleans Catholics celebrate the day by building elaborate St. Joseph’s Day altars. St. Joseph’s Day altars began as a tradition brought to New Orleans by Sicilian immigrants honoring St. Joseph, who is said to have ended the great famine in their country.

St. Joseph altars represent the Holy Trinity. That is why they are usually divided into three sections with a statue of St. Joseph at the head. Catholics place candles, figurines, flowers, medals and other items around the alter. On St. Joseph’s Day altars you will find offerings of food. The foods on the altars include breads, cakes, cookies, but also fava beans (or lucky beans) which are said to have been the only food for the Sicilians throughout the famine. The altars are usually broken up on St. Joseph’s Day and food and donations are given to the public.

St. Joseph's Day Altar at Rousses

St. Joseph’s Day Altars

Right around St. Joseph’s Day, you will find the elaborate altars all over the city. Below is a list where you can go to see some amazing altars:

Rouses

The Rouses Market on Baronne Street will start setting up its St. Joseph’s Day Altar between March 13th and 14th.

The French Market

The French Market on N Peters St. will hold their annual St. Joseph’s Day Celebration on March 15th in the Farmers Market which will feature a St. Joseph’s Day Altar, live entertainment and more.

Avo

New Orleans Italian restaurant Avo on Magazine Street is creating a St. Joseph’s Day Altar which will be open to the public on Thursday, March 19th. Viewing will start at 11 am with a blessing at 11:30 am. Avo says their St. Joseph’s Day altar will showcase decorative breads, pignolatti, cuccidati (fig cookies), citrus, fish, artichokes, pasta, cakes, wine and of course, lucky fava beans.

International House Hotel

On Thursday, March 19th from 4:30 pm till 7 pm, the International House New Orleans will show off its traditional three-tired altar during the 20th annual St. Joseph’s Day ritual.

For more information visit: https://www.ihhotel.com/rituals-and-happenings/rituals/st-joseph-s-day

Brother Martin High School

Brother Martin High School will have a St. Joseph’s Day altar in the James B. Branton Chapel (on campus). The Altar will be open Wednesday, March 18th and Thursday, March 19th.

For more information visit: https://www.brothermartin.com/

Archbishop Chapelle High School

You will be able to take a look at the Archbishop Chapelle High School St. Joseph’s Day Altar on Wednesday, March 18 and March 19th at the Gym.

For more information visit: https://www.archbishopchapelle.org/st-josephs-altar.html

Beauregard-Keyes House

The altar at the Beauregard-Keyes Hoouse in the French Quarter will open on Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19. Father Damian Zablocki will bless the altar in a ceremony open to the public at 9 am on the morning of Wednesday, March 18.

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/484332802448807/

Cabrini High School

On Thursday, March 19th Cabrini High School will be hosting its third annual St. Joseph’s Altar in the Sacred Heart Chapel on campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Altar Viewing – Chapel, 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Altar Blessing and Tupa Tupa – Chapel, 9:00 AM
Dinner – Esplanade Courtyard, 5:00 PM

For more information visit: https://www.cabrinihigh.com/st-josephs-altar

Cabrini St. Joseph Altar
Photo: Tyler Kaufman/©2019
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