Father’s Day in Italy
A Quick Update
We’ve been up to a lot over the past month or so. Whilst we’ve been so busy, you may have noticed the lack of posts on our blog. Not to fear — or non ti preoccupare, as the Italian goes — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to get it up and running again. As evangelists it is, by virtue, our divine duty to spread the heavenly scent of pasta. But it’s also about spreading all matters relating to Italian culture and food.
With Father’s Day fast approaching, we thought it was only appropriate to cover a piece on when and how the Italians do it. As a country that places a great deal of emphasis on the famiglia, there are some fascinating traditions and wonderfully flavourful foods during this time of year. But of course, for Italians, Father’s Day is already over….
When is Father’s Day celebrated in Italy?
Whilst most countries around the world recognise the value and importance of the father, the specific date countries choose to celebrate Father’s Day day can differ from the British celebration. Italy comes as no exception to this. Based on the US calculation of the date, Father’s Day in Britain falls on the 3rd Sunday of every June. This of course means the date changes from year to year. Our Italian counterparts, however, follow a different timeline. Together with Spain and Portugal, Father’s Day, or Festa del Papà, is celebrated on the 19th of March. Consistently.
La Festa di San Giuseppe
The reasons for celebrating Father’s Day on this date are tied to the country’s deeply rooted Catholic tradition. Not only is the day about recognising the father, but it’s also a day of religious celebration. The Italian date coincides with the Festa Di San Giuseppe or, as rendered in its English translation, the Festival or Feast of St. Joseph. Husband to the Virgin Mary and terrestrial father of Jesus, St. Joseph is considered as the definitive symbol of the pious and perfect father. Not only symbolically significant, St. Joseph is also the patron saint of workers, families and, of course, fathers. What’s more, in true fatherly spirit, he’s credited as the saviour of Sicily. As tradition has it, during the Middle Ages residents prayed to St. Joseph for rain during one of their many draughts. Just like any father rushing to the aid of his children, the rain came, and their crops were spared from destruction, thereby preventing a widespread famine.
Not only does the date mark the commemoration of San Giuseppe, it also lies on the eve of the March equinox, in where both day and night are the exact same length, and thus offers glimmers of the approaching summer light to come. A rather fitting poetic reflection we think of the moral support, guidance and direction fathers so often provide to those around them.
St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus in tender embrace
How is the day celebrated?
Tradition, Pasta & Sweet Temptations
Whilst in the more secular north, the day itself isn’t too dissimilar from a typical British celebration involving the exchange of gifts and cards, the southern regions still bear witness to the traditions evoked by the religious occasion. Calabria, Puglia and particularly Sicilia — think of the ‘toe’, ‘boot’ and ‘ball’ of the Italian peninsula — subscribe most to tradition. Households prepare spreads of traditional braided breads (pane di San Giuseppe) and a fava bean and wild fennel soup known as Maccu (in Sicilian). As one of the supposed spared crops during the times of drought, fava beans represent good luck and abundance. Together with lemons, wine, and flowers, long tables known as tavole di San Giuseppe (literally tables of St. Joseph) are decorated with candles, and a painting or an icon of the Saint is placed in the centre. Then, in true Italian fashion, homes are opened to strangers and the poor.
Of course no Father’s Day would be complete without the inclusion of pasta. A typical dish worth special mention is the pasta con la mollica (pasta ca’ muddica in Sicilian dialect). Involving either spaghetti or bucatini, this typical dish sees the holy trinity of garlic, olive and chilli pepper as the foundation. Next is the addition of anchovies, or in some areas sarde (sardines). The dish is finally garnished with breadcrumbs (also known as the ‘poor man’s Parmigiano’) which are said to represent sawdust after a day’s work in the carpenter’s shop (for those unfamiliar, St. Joseph was a carpenter).
Typical sweets of the Father’s Day period include traditional Italian cream filled pastries. Known as Zeppole, these little delights are made with choux pastry and filled with either ricotta or custard. Dusted with powdered sugar, they’re finally crowned with luscious and intensely flavourful Amarena cherries. Even better, whilst originating from the south, you can find these decadent sensations all over Italy thus satisfying the sweet tooth of fathers nationwide.
Whilst Father’s Day in Italy has passed, for us Brits it’s luckily yet to come. Why not spread the gift of authentic Italian pasta and indulge Dad with the true taste of Italy? After all, it’s those special little touches that make all the difference, particularly for those occasions where it matters the most. But of course, being the kind and caring individuals that we know you are, we hardly needed to remind you…
To get 10% off any order, including one of our exclusive Father’s Day feasting boxes, just use the code FESTADELPAPA at checkout. Buon appetito.
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