La Festa di San Giuseppe, the Feast of Saint Joseph, is celebrated by Catholics worldwide, but it is especially important in Italy; it serves as Italian Father’s Day, Giuseppe, of course, being the man who stepped in to be the earthly father of Jesus.
The holiday is particularly special in Sicily, where St. Joseph is honored for saving the island from famine during the Middle Ages; the population survived on fava beans, which is why fava beans are also part of the celebration in Sicily.
Since food plays a role in nearly every Italian holiday, what does the rest of Italy eat for St. Joseph’s Day?
The simple answer is zeppole, but then it gets a bit more complicated as zeppole versions vary greatly throughout the peninsula, particularly in the South.
The most widely known outside of Italy seem to be the cream-filled version from Naples, often called “St. Joseph’s Cream Puffs” (pictured above) or similar fritters served with cream known as St. Joseph’s Fritters:
Here in Calabria, zeppole are deep-fried dough and trust me, addictive; although my grandmother dusted them in sugar to make them sweet, the more traditional way around here is to stick an anchovy inside–decidedly not the sweet delectable treat with cream you may have been looking for!
So Happy Italian Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and auguri to all the Giuseppes and Giuseppinas as well! Be sure to have una zeppola since zeppole calories don’t count today 😉
Do you make zeppole? Feel free to share your recipes or simply describe them in the comments!
* Top image by News21-USA on Flickr (CC license)