LE FESTE – CELEBRATIONS
St. Joseph’s Day, which is known as the festa di San Giuseppe, is actually Father’s Day in Italy. In a country where the overwhelming majority of the population is Catholic (and the Pope is your neighbor), saints are a big deal. This is, of course, especially true in southern Italy. San Giuseppe is celebrated March 19. Like all other feast days honoring saints, this one recognizes everyone named Giuseppe (Joseph) and Giuseppina (Josephine).
How St. Joseph’s Day Is Celebrated in Italy
But some feast days include other celebrations. They sometimes associate the day as a way to honor whatever the saint is said to oversee. Saint Peter is the patron saint of fishermen, so on that feast day (June 29) in Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples in Italy, the fisherman fry up fresh fish at the porto and give it away for free. Since Joseph served as Jesus’ dad on Earth, he is associated with fathers. So, Italians consider March 19 the festa dei papa (feast of fathers), too. And June doesn’t even register for them.
Indeed, today Italians are offering up handmade cards, recited poems, little gifts, and good food to their fathers. Many are shouting, “Auguri” to the fathers they see in the piazza or at the pranzo (lunch) table. I’m about to make homemade gnocchi and a promise for a dinner out to my husband, the father of our son. The meal would be incomplete without dolci, some sweets. On this day the cream adorned zeppoles that either fried or baked are the traditional dessert.
The Takeaway for Italians Abroad
The message here is to be kind to your fathers on this feast day, which happens to fall on Sunday Funday this year. You don’t need fresh pasta or even a gift. A hug and a kiss will likely suffice. And a St. Joseph’s Day zeppole like the ones in the photo above wouldn’t hurt. C’mon, who could resist?
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10. For more handmade crafts and party gear, visit the Italian Mamma store on Etsy.