Skip to main content

St. Joseph's Day Celebration in Los Angeles

St. Joseph's Day table at Hammer Museum, 1998
St. Joseph's Day table at Hammer Museum, 1998
Luisa Del Giudice

This weekend the Italian community of Los Angeles, in conjunction with the Watts Towers Arts Center and Mudtown Farms is welcoming the greater Los Angeles community to St. Lawrence of Brindisi Catholic Church in Compton to join in several activities surrounding a traditional St. Joseph’s Day celebration, and a communal feast following the 11 A.M. mass on Sunday morning.

The centuries long tradition began in medieval Sicily, as a day of thanks to St. Joseph by its citizens for preventing famine. According to the legend, there was a severe drought at the time, and Sicilians prayed to Joseph, their patron, for the rain that would spare them. As the crop saving rain did come, they prepared a festive banquet in homage to him. The custom has persisted to this day, following southern Italian immigrants throughout the world.

Altars in Catholic churches are garnished with an abundant array of flowers, decorative and braided breads, pastries, fruit and other foods, and a feast is prepared for all to participate, with food especially being shared with the needy.

Join in the viewing of one of these beautiful altars Friday through Sunday, and participate in the feast this Sunday. It is requested that visitors leave an offering of canned and packaged foods, or a monetary donation to benefit local food pantries. In turn, visitors will receive a ritual offering: a roll, orange, and fava bean.

For more information, please visit the Watts Towers Common Ground’s festival page.