19 March in Italy is Father's Day, a holiday created to celebrate fathers and their role in the family and more generally in society.
Perhaps not everyone knows that Father's Day is indeed celebrated almost all over the world, but each country declines it according to its history and traditions. This is why there is no single shared date on which it is celebrated.
In Italy, Father's Day falls on 19 March because, according to belief, it is the day on which St Joseph, the putative father of Jesus, died. The cult of St Joseph was already practised in the early Middle Ages, but in the 14th century his feast day began to be observed on 19 March, even in the West. It was Pope Sixtus IV who included the feast day in the Roman calendar, in 1479, while in 1871, considering St Joseph a positive father figure, embodying in fact the figure of the good father, a model of vigilance and providence, the Catholic Church proclaimed him protector of family fathers and patron of the Universal Church. For this reason, in Catholic countries, Father's Day is 19 March.
Until 1977, St Joseph's Day was considered a public holiday in Italy, but with Law No. 54 of 5 March 1977, the holiday was abolished and from then on 19 March became a weekday. In Canton Ticino, other cantons in Switzerland and some provinces in Spain, however, it is still considered a public holiday.
Father's Day is an opportunity for children to show their love for their father with cards and greeting phrases for dad, gifts and handicrafts. But there are also some foods traditionally linked to this occasion: among the Father's Day sweets, famous are the Neapolitan zeppole di San Giuseppe, pancakes filled with cream and black cherry jam. They are prepared on 19 March because it is said that after fleeing to Egypt to escape persecution by King Herod, Joseph was forced to sell sweets to support his family in a foreign land.
In Rome, St Joseph's puffs are prepared, while in Tuscany and Umbria, rice fritters cooked in milk and flavoured with spices and liqueur are prepared on 19 March.
Raviola, a short pastry cake filled with jam or cream, is typical of Emilia Romagna, while in Sicily there are several specialities, from zeppole di riso to sfince di San Giuseppe.
The story is different for the United States. Here Father's Day is linked to the initiative of a young woman, Sonora Smart Dood. While listening to a sermon in church on Mother's Day, she came up with the idea of such a day dedicated to fathers. And so it came about: on 19 June 1910 the first Father's Day was celebrated. Why this particular date? Simple, it was the birthday of Dood's father, who, after the death of his wife, found himself raising the children alone. It was President Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1966, who proclaimed Father's Day a national holiday, to be celebrated every third Sunday in June.