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Carrying St. Joseph: A unique Advent tradition


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Philip Kosloski - published on 12/20/21

A tradition from Central Europe features a traveling statue of St. Joseph that is passed from family to family before Christmas.

The Advent season in particular has a wealth of traditions that have stood the test of time and have helped Christians prepare for the great feast of Christmas.

One unique tradition comes from Central Europe and is focused on a statue of St. Joseph.

Francis Xaver Weiser explains the tradition in his book, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs.

In central Europe the nine days before Christmas are kept in many places as a festive season … In the Alpine sections … schoolboys carry a statue of Saint Joseph every night to one of their homes. Kneeling before it, they say prayers in honor of the saint.

What is interesting about this tradition is how the custom of passing on the statue of St. Joseph slowly gathers a large following, with each schoolboy going to the next house, so that by the end there is a large gathering.

On the first night, only the boy who carried the statue and the one to whose home it was brought perform this devotion. The following nights, as the statue is taken from house to house, the number of boys increases, since all youngsters who had it in their home previously take part in the devotion. On the evening of December 24 all nine of them, accompanied by nine schoolgirls dressed in white, take the image in procession through the town to the church, where they put it up at the Christmas crib. This custom is called Josephstragen (Carrying Saint Joseph).

The custom fosters a unique devotion to St. Joseph, focusing on his role in the Nativity. It marks the final days before Christmas, heightening the anticipation for the beautiful feast.

AdventSaint Joseph
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