March 19, 2013 - St. Joseph's Day

Saint Joseph is, according to Catholicism, the husband of Mary and therefore the step-father of Jesus. Joseph's Feast Day isn't as famous in the U.S. as Saint Patrick's Day, two days before, but it is celebrated in many places in the world, sometimes with colorful and exciting customs.

Like, don't you just love it when an entire town turns out to watch giant puppets lit up on fire? And when the town is noisy 24 hours a day, for a week or more? When they explode fireworks every day at noon, and hold street parties, and have huge light displays that rival Las Vegas?

That is Las Fallas, the period of time leading up to and including St. Joseph's Day, in Valencia, Spain. (There “St. Joseph” is translated to “San Jose.”)

In Sicily, Italy, people have huge banquets in St. Joseph's honor; they give food to the needy, wear red, and build and decorate special altars to St. Joseph. (There “St. Joseph” is translated to “San Giuseppe.”)

In various places in the world, St. Joseph's Day is celebrated as a special day to honor people named Joseph or Josephine, and carpenters, and fathers—because Joseph was a carpenter and a father. St. Joseph is considered the patron saint of Canada, Mexico, China, and Belgium—so this Feast Day is celebrated by many in those nations.

One of the places that celebrates St. Joseph's Day as a sort of informal national day is Liechtenstein. This is a teeny, tiny country located in the Alps, in Europe. It is one of only two nations in the world that is doubly landlocked, which means Liechtensteiners have to go through two countries to get to an ocean or sea! (You can travel from Liechtenstein to landlocked Switzerland, and from there to either France, Germany, or Italy. Or you can travel from Liechtenstein to landlocked Austria, and from there to either Germany or Italy.)
Liechtenstein is about as large as a city near me, Long Beach, California. The 36,000 Liechtensteiners speak German and enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Neutral during World War II, a tax haven, a financial center, and a perfect spot for ski resorts, this nation has a lot going for its economy.

Learn more about Liechtenstein here. 

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the discovery of electric eels

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