Father’s Day celebrates the most beautiful gift of all: our family. Let me tell you a little bit about this wonderful celebration in Italy.
Father’s Day, o Festa del Papà in Italian, is celebrated in Italy on a different date, instead of being the third Sunday in June like in the UK, we celebrate it on the 19th of March. The date coincides both with the pagan festivity for the end of winter and the day which celebrates Saint Joseph, San Giuseppe, father of Jesus Christ and protector of woodworkers, orphans and poor people. Because of this, many years ago, especially in small villages in the south of Italy, it was tradition to set up large tables outdoors for the entire community to feast together, inviting poorer neighbours and orphans to join for a family meal.
Even though the modern celebration of all dads as we know it originated at the beginning of the twentieth century, honouring San Giuseppe goes all the way back to the Benedictine monks, who were celebrating the Saint already in 1030 AD...
Celebrations vary from region to region and from big cities to smaller towns and villages, with events like parades, creative workshops and shows with dancing and live music. I remember that, when I was younger, my teachers at school would dedicate entire classes to the making of cards and handmade gifts to donate to dads on Father’s Day.
And there is no better way to celebrate the Festa del Papà than with some traditional Italian confectionery! The most popular treat of the festivity is Zeppole di San Giuseppe, made with choux pastry, filled with Italian custard, topped with an amarena cherry and dusted with powdered sugar. Some people like to bake this Italian dessert, but I personally am always going to prefer the deep-fried version, the more indulgent and delicious one.
As legend has it, after fleeing Egypt with Mary and Jesus, San Giuseppe had to sell fritters to maintain his family in foreign land. So, really, eating the deep-fried zeppola is just me being true to tradition!
Another beloved sweet from Italy made to celebrate dads all over the country is the Sfinci di San Giuseppe, typical of the southern regions: a choux pastry fritter covered in ricotta mixed with chocolate chips, decorated with caramelised fruits and nuts.
It is clear that the most popular products of the Italian food tradition which celebrate this special occasion are sweet rather than savoury and many of the ingredients of these classic recipes have inspired some of my gourmet confectionery gifts.
Family is really important in Italy and Father’s Day is a wonderful occasion to dedicate some time to dads and their importance. It is also a great opportunity to celebrate and have a fantastic meal. If you are in Italy or you happen to be there for this lovely celebration I really hope you will give these Italian confectionery a try.
But if you cannot travel all the way or you are looking for something different, my handmade Italian confetti and nougats are made with real pieces of fruit, nuts and chocolate, for a true taste of Italy in the heart of London. Whether presented in their beautiful designer tins or gift wrapped, they would make the perfect present to celebrate your dad, grandad, stepfather or guardian.
Buona Festa del Papà!