San Jose Day, also known as the Feast of St Joseph in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
the feast of St Josep

San Jose Day, or the Feast of St Joseph, is a significant celebration in Spain that takes place on March 19th of every year. It is a public holiday in the regions of Valencia, Murcia, and Castilla-La Mancha, as well as in many towns and villages throughout the country.

This holiday is a religious celebration that honors the patron saint of carpenters, fathers, and workers, and it is celebrated with various traditions and festivities. Today is also father´s day in Spain.

History and Origin

The Feast of St Joseph has been celebrated for centuries, dating back to the Middle Ages. The holiday’s origins can be traced back to a story in the Bible that tells of St Joseph, the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph was a carpenter, and he is often associated with the virtues of hard work, humility, and devotion. Furthermore, he is also known as a protector of families. And, therefore, his feast day has become a time for honouring fathers and all those who work with their hands.

Traditions and Celebrations

San Jose Day is a time for religious processions, feasting, and family gatherings. Many towns and villages hold parades and processions in honour of St Joseph. These celebrations feature floats, music, and dancing. Furthermore, it is also common to have bonfires, fireworks, and other forms of celebration.

One of the most significant traditions of San Jose Day is the “Altars of St Joseph.” These altars are typically decorated with flowers, candles, and food, and they are set up in homes and public spaces throughout Spain. They are often built in a pyramid shape and feature a statue of St Joseph at the top. Visitors to the altars are often offered sweets, bread, and other treats.

Another tradition associated with San Jose Day is the “Burning of the Sardine.” This tradition involves a parade where a papier-mache sardine is carried through the streets and eventually burned at the end of the procession. This symbolises the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

Food is also a significant part of the celebrations, with many traditional dishes associated with San Jose Day. One popular dish is “Pan de San José,” a sweet bread made with anise, almonds, and sugar. Another dish is “Arroz con costra,” a rice dish made with chicken, sausage, and eggs.

A day to honour fathers

San Jose Day is a vibrant and colourful celebration in Spain that honors the patron saint of fathers, carpenters, and workers. With its religious processions, bonfires, and food, the holiday is a time for family gatherings and community celebrations. Whether it’s the “Altars of St Joseph” or the “Burning of the Sardine,” San Jose Day is a time for Spaniards to come together and celebrate their culture and traditions.

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Las Fallas

Las Fallas is a famous festival that takes place in Valencia, Spain, and is also closely related to San Jose Day. The festival is held in March, typically starting on the 15th and ending on March 19th, which coincides with San Jose Day.

As with the “Burning of the Sardine”, Las Fallas celebrates the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new season. This festival is known for its huge sculptures, called “fallas,” that are made from wood, papier-mache, and other materials. These sculptures often depict satirical or political themes and are placed throughout the city’s streets.

On the night of March 19th, the final day of the festival and also San Jose Day, the fallas are set on fire in a spectacular display of flames and fireworks. This symbolises the end of the winter season and the beginning of a new cycle.

Like San Jose Day, Las Fallas is also celebrated with music, parades, and traditional foods. The festival is a major cultural event in Spain, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Las Fallas tribute to St Joseph

In Valencia, San Jose is considered the patron saint of carpenters, which is why Las Fallas often includes a special tribute to St Joseph. Many of the fallas sculptures include a figure of St. Joseph, and on the day of the final burning, the figure is often placed at the top of the sculpture.

While San Jose Day is a holiday that is celebrated throughout Spain, it holds particular significance in Valencia, where it is celebrated in conjunction with Las Fallas. The festival is a colourful and vibrant celebration of spring, marked by huge sculptures, fireworks, and traditional foods. The event is a testament to the rich culture and history of Spain and remains a major attraction for tourists from around the world.

Also read: Fiestas, Ferias, and Celebrations in Spain 2023

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