History of St. Joseph’s Altars in New Orleans

St. Joseph’s Altars in NOLA

Every March 19th New Orleans celebrates St. Joseph’s Day by constructing altars all around the city.

This tradition started in the 1880’s when Sicilians began migrating to New Orleans in large numbers. Sicilian Catholics brought the tradition of the Feast of St. Joseph over with them. This practice started in the middle ages after prayers to St. Joseph were answered during a drought. Rain arrived and brought a plentiful crop of fava beans that saved the population from starving. Cookies, cakes and breads, often in the form of shellfish, are common decorations for altars. Fava beans, or “lucky beans,” are particularly associated with St. Joseph because they sustained the Sicilians throughout famine.

This long running tradition now presents yet another great opportunity to experience the vast culture of our city. There are multiple places around New Orleans that you can experience and St. Joseph’s altar. Below are a few popular St. Joseph’s altars you can visit. 

Where You Can Find St. Joseph’s Altars Throughout New Orleans

  1. Beauregard-Keyes House 1113 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116 . 
  2. St. Patrick’s Church, 724 Camp Street, New Orleans (Reynolds Hall in courtyard)
  3. Good Shepherd Parish/St. Stephen’s Church, 1025 Napoleon Avenue, New Orleans
  4. Immaculate Conception Church, 130 Baronne St., New Orleans (Lenes Hall)
  5. St. Dominic Parish, 775 Harrison Ave., New Orleans
  6. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 1908 Short St., Kenner
  7. St. Angela Merici Church, 901 Beverly Garden Dr., Metairie
  8. St. Francis Xavier St. Joseph Altar Society, 444 Metairie Road, Metairie
  9. Mary, Queen of Peace, 1501 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville
  10. St. Cletus Catholic Church, 3600 Claire Avenue, Gretna

Why is This Holiday Important in NOLA?

St. Joseph’s day is a great example of immigrant contributions to the creole culture that exists here today. Celebrations at this time include traditions from Italian, Irish, and African culture and festivities. Churches, neighborhood associations, and families all plan for the feast day and work to erect their altars. Friends, neighbors and relatives visit homes door-to-door and share a dish known as pasta con sarde, a traditional St. Joseph’s Day zeppole pastry.

New Orleans has always been a melting pot of cultures, full of life and traditions brought here from around the world. St Joseph’s Day is a day that culminates just how cultured and vibrant the city of New Orleans is. As abundant in culture New Orleans is, this holiday is representative of the abundance brought by St, Joseph and the abundance that this city has to offer.

If you’re looking to take part in the traditions of St. Joseph’s Day, we hope you’ll partake by visiting one of the locations above. Maybe we’ll see you there!

Celebrating St. Joseph’s Day Here at Lavis Law Firm, we love being a part of the New Orleans community. We’re looking forward to taking part in this and other colorful traditions this year while continuing to offer dependable representation in personal injury cases. If you’ve been injured and are in need of an accident attorney, give us a call today!

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