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NoDef's Guide to St. Joseph's Day Parades & Altars



This weekend, as many New Orleanians toast to their Irish heritage and Mardi Gras Indians come out for Super Sunday, the city's considerable Italian population will be celebrating St. Joseph's Day. This day of religious observance honors Joseph, the earthly "father" of Jesus in the Bible. According to legend, St. Joseph saved the Sicilians from from famine by bringing rain to their crop fields; in exchange, the people threw a massive feast. NOLA's significant Sicilian population brough the tradition over many years ago, throwing parades and erecting altars with elaborate food spreads to commemorate the saint. 

 

One of the central events of the holiday takes place in the French Quarter, as the Italian American Marching Club is set to roll through the streets once again Saturday night. Founded in 1970 by a group of New Orleanians who wanted their Italian heritage showcased in the city, the Marching Club now boasts over 1500 members. The parade kicks off at Canal and Chartres Street at 6PM with pizza, wine, and Italian music. Decked in their customary tuxedos, members of the Marching Club will parade through the Vieux Carre handing out fava beans and silk flowers. Lucky ladies may even get a dance or a serenade. The parade ends at the New Orleans Hilton, where the Club's annual gala will take place. 

 

The highlight of St. Joseph's Day are the many altars that overtake the city. At the heart of every altar is a statue of Joseph, surrounded by platters of Lenten-approved (oft-meatless) foods, like raw fruits & vegetables, candies, cookies, pastries, and the good luck token of St. Joe's, the fava bean. Donations are accepted at most of the altars as well. Fava beans are usually passed out to passersby, as this is the food that saved many Italians from starving during the famine. Altars are held at many local churches but also at community centers, private homes that open to the public, and even bars like Lost Love Lounge and restaurants like AVO. 

 

Here is NoDef's list of St. Joe's Day altars in the Orleans Parish: 

  • Academy of the Sacred Heart (4301 St. Charles Ave.) March 20, 9AM-2PM
  • AVO Restaurant (5908 Magazine Street) March 18, 11AM-2PM
  • Beauregard-Keyes House (1113 Chartres St.) March 16-18, 10AM-1PM
  • Blessed Francis X. Seelos Church (3053 Dauphine St.) March 18-19, 9AM-5PM
  • Brother Martin High School (4401 Elysian Fields) March 19, 10AM-6PM
  • De La Salle High School (5300 St. Charles Ave.) March 20, 9AM-4PM
  • Holy Cross School (5500 Paris Ave.) March 20, 9AM-4PM
  • Immaculate Conception Church (130 Baronne St.) March 18-20, 8AM-4PM
  • Lost Love Lounge (2529 Dauphine St.) March 19, 12PM-close
  • Mount Carmel Academy (7027 Milne Blvd.) March 17, 7:30AM-6PM
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe (400 Basin St.) March 19, 7:30AM-4PM
  • Our Lady Star of the Sea Church (1835 St. Roch Ave.) March 17-19, 10AM-4PM
  • Rouses Markets (15 locations) 
  • St. Augustine (1210 Gov. Nicholls St.) March 18, 11AM-till
  • St. Augustine High School (2600 A.P. Tureaud Ave.) March 16-17, 8AM-3PM
  • St. Dominic (775 Harrison Ave.) March 16-17, 9AM-6PM
  • St. Francis of Assisi (6122 1/2 Patton St.) March 18-19, 1PM-4PM
  • St. Gabriel the Archangel (4700 Pineda St.) March 17-20, 9AM-4PM
  • St. Joseph (1802 Tulane Ave.) March 20, 9AM-5PM
  • St. Mary's Assumption Church (923 Josephine St.) March 18-19, 10AM-4PM
  • St. Patrick (724 Camp St.) March 18-19, 8AM-6:30PM
  • St. Raymond (2916 Paris Ave.) March 18-19, 1-5PM
  • St. Rita (8915 Edinburgh St.) March 18-19, 12PM-5PM
  • Xavier University (1 Drexel Dr.) March 16, 8AM-5PM

 

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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt

Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

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