Today is St. Joseph’s Day, the day that we remember the foster father of Jesus.
St. Joseph is such an important role model for Christians all over the world. Just like Mary, he was specially chosen by God, and just like Mary, he listened to God and obeyed.
St. Joseph is only mentioned in the first few chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. It is really interesting to go back through those chapters with your focus on Joseph. What must it have been like for him?
As I read through the chapters, I was struck by how much St. Joseph was guided by an angel of the Lord. I am very aware of the angel of the Lord appearing to Mary but I had never noticed how much the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph.
So, today, in honor of St. Joseph, read through the first chapters of Matthew and Luke, really thinking about it all through Joseph’s eyes. Notice all that the gospel writers say about him and notice all of the times the angel of the Lord appears to him and what the angel says.
Other ways to celebrate:
Read Matthew 1:18-24. Discuss what it must have been like to be Joseph. Do you think he was scared or confused? Did Joseph obey the angel? Discuss how Joseph's obedience to the Lord protected Mary and the unborn baby Jesus.
St. Joseph was a carpenter. Let your kids hammer nails into scraps of wood. Talk about the craft of carpentry and how Joseph taught Jesus how to be a carpenter.
Make something with figs. In Italy, figs, especially fig cookies are associated with St. Joseph. We made a wonderful fig cookie filled with figs, chocolate, and orange marmalade BUT if you don’t feel like baking, simply pick up a package of fig newtons or fig preserves from your grocery store.
St. Joseph’s Day Fig Cookies
1 1/4 lb. whole dried figs
Zest of 1 orange
1 c. blanched almonds
1/2 c. orange marmalade
1/2 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. solid vegetable shortening
1 tbsp. red decorating sugar
1 tbsp. green decorating sugar
Place figs and orange zest in a food processor and chop, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add almonds, marmalade, chocolate chips, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cloves, and cinnamon to mixture; combine. Add warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time (up to 2 teaspoons), until mixture reaches consistency of a thick paste.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine flour, remaining granulated sugar, and baking powder on low speed. With mixer still on low, add shortening, 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 1 cup), and mix until resembling coarse crumbs. Then add water, 1 teaspoon at a time (up to 1 cup), until dough begins to ball around paddle. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Using damp hands, shape each piece into a 10-inch-long log, 1 inch thick. Cut each log into 10 coins. (Keep any dough you're not using covered with a damp cloth.) Using a rolling pin, roll out each coin to a 3-inch round, about 1/8-inch thickness.
Place 1 heaping teaspoon fig filling in center of each round of dough. Using your fingers, bring 2 sides of the round up and pinch them over the filling, sealing edges of dough. Turn cookie over so seam is on bottom; then shape cookie into an almond shape. Repeat with remaining dough.
Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. With a sharp paring knife, score several vents on top of each cookie (as shown in photo). Sprinkle cookies with decorating sugar.
Bake cookies until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.