St. Joseph Altar For Beginners

Living the liturgical year at home is a way of weaving the Catholic faith into our lives here, and having a home altar is a great way to encourage this. We like to update our Catholic home altar throughout the liturgical year to meet the seasons, and today I wanted to share with you our St. Joseph’s altar. I also want to answer all the questions you may have about how to set up a St. Joseph’s altar, what’s involved, and why we do it. You can find all of my resources for celebrating St. Joseph’s feast day here.


The Traditions Surrounding St. Joseph’s Altar

I found this lovely video that explains the traditions of St. Joseph’s altar from Italian Americans. You can see a lot of authentic foods and traditons in this video. 

What shape is a St. Joseph’s Altar?

Well, St. Joseph Altars are generally in 3 ‘steps’. This symbolizes the trinity and also the holy family. I made mine by stacking boxes and covering it with a white cloth.


What goes on top of St. Joseph’s Altar?

St. Joseph of course! I do happen to have a nice St. Joseph statue, but if you don’t, you can use any picture of St. Joseph- even a holy card. And don’t tell me you don’t have a St. Joseph statue because I KNOW you have a nativity set! Lol! It’s also ok to put the entire holy family up there. If your nativity set is all packed away, check out my printable nativity and have your kids color the holy family today 🙂

What Traditionally Goes On St. Joseph’s Altar?

  • Bread
  • Fancy Pastries
  • Fish
  • Lilies
  • Roses
  • Candles
  • Wine
  • Fruit
  • Fava Beans
  • Symbols of St. Joseph (such as tools, sawdust, etc)
  • Breads in the shape of St. Joseph symbols

Where did the St. Joseph’s Altar Tradition Begin?

Once there was a famine in Sicily, and the people prayed to St. Joseph for relief. Their prayers were answered, and they made an altar and brought their bountiful food to offer. Then they distributed the food to the less fortunate. So it’s also traditional to donate the food from your altar 🙂 You can read more about this history here.

What are ‘fava beans’?

They were food for cattle, but everyone was considered lucky to have them to eat during times of famine. Check out the “Fava” bean craft we made!




Post continues after this brief information about the Catholic Icing Monthly Membership

Monthly Liturgical Membership

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Perfect for families! Each month you gain access to printable activity pages, crafts, home altar pieces, and more.
Never has living the liturgical year been so easy and affordable!

Like our “fancy pastries”? They’re  made from fig newtons. See the post on how to make them yourself here!
This really is a beautiful way to live the liturgical year at home with your kids and weave the Catholic faith into your lives!

Couldn’t help myself but to draw attention to this. Can you believe I had a bottle of wine with Mary and Jesus on it to put on our altar? Lucky! 🙂


I also have this printable St. Joseph’s altar for kids that is really fun, so check it out! 

You will find even more awesome resources for celebrating the feast day of St. Joseph here!


  1. LOL, Liebfraumilch! I've had that before 🙂

    Love the altar!

  2. Sweet, Lacy. A nice bit of icing. : ) I'll see ya over at Evann's!

  3. Congratulations on your very first St. Joseph Altar – it is beautiful! Still love those fig newtons, Lacy! Thanks for participating in the blog fest and for all your mentions.
    Viva San Giuseppe!

  4. Our Catholic Family says

    Lacy, you're killing me. Seriously, I was so sad I didn't have a St. Joseph for my altar. BUT, duh, I have a nativity 😀 Thanks for all the great ideas – I'll be posting mine after my husband comes home. I'm already trying to keep the kids out of everything. They're literally climbing counters trying to get to the sweets :/

  5. Lacy, thanks for your comments. Thanks for the idea on the fig bars, they came out ok. The reason I mentioned about non Catholic readers on my post is because I was away from Catholic church for four years. I have lots of friends that are not Catholic. Lots of amazing Christian friends, some who are protestant. I returned to the Catholic faith two years ago, and since then I have been learning so much, that I never knew before. Thanks to all you.

  6. JOYfilled Family says

    Great job! I love the simplicity of your altar.
    Pax – Lena

  7. Your altar turned out lovely, Lacy!

    Your statue of St. Joseph is beautiful. I noticed when putting ours together today, that we do not have a very nice statue of St. Joseph (it's very old and chipped) and I wasn't willing to pull out the nativity set. lol!

    Also, the fig symbol cookies you made turned out cute! I came up with something similar last week for my little flowers meeting, decorating Fig Newtons with a bit of frosting to symbolize Bibles/Books. They were so easy and turned out so cute!

    Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

  8. Wonderful!! I'll have to revisit this again for next year. Also, please stop by my blog for a Sunshine Award!

    Your blog rocks!

  9. Kathleen's Catholic says

    Wonderful to see this! I just wrote a post called St. Joseph: The Greatest of All Earthly Fathers. He really does deserve these altars to honor him! He's help me through some tough times. What a wonderful saint!!

    God bless you for doing this Link up, Lacy.

  10. What great ideas. Your altar looks great! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. This is a great post. I love the information that you give on St. Joseph and all the details. The fig newtons are a new "must" in our family! Momma loves fig newtons and has little other reason to get them!

    Thanks for the note on 4Real, It's nice to have all these pictures…

  12. What a neat thing-I had no idea!!! Ours will probably be just as simple-and am happy to see simple ones!