How will you celebrate La Festa del Papà?
Learn all about Father’s Day in Italy, when it is, and how to pronounce it in Italian. Learn how Italians celebrate Father’s Day, and the holiday’s history. We give you practical language tips on different ways to wish your dad a Happy Father’s Day in Italian (Auguri! Buona Festa del Papà!), how to write him a card for La Festa del Papà, and plenty of Italian Father’s Day desserts.
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HOW TO SAY FATHER’S DAY IN ITALIAN
Father’s Day in Italy is called La Festa del Papà. In Italy Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19.
Festa means holiday or party in Italian. Papà actually means Dad, not father (the word for father in Italian is padre). So literally Festa del Papà means Dad’s holiday, or Dad’s day.
The pronunciation of La Festa del Papà is: lah FEH-stah DEHL pah-PAH
Listen to how to pronounce La Festa del Papà here:
In some areas of Italy, Father’s Day is also called La Festa del Babbo. This is because in Italian there are two main ways to say Dad: Papà and Babbo. Italians use one or the other depending on where they’re from in Italy. Check out our article How to Say Dad in Italian to learn all about it.
Il diciannove marzo è la Festa del Babbo. Come festeggiate di solito?
The 19th of May is Father’s Day. How do you usually celebrate?
WHAT TO TELL YOUR DAD ON FATHER’S DAY IN ITALY
Want to wish your dad a Happy Father’s Day in Italian? Here’s what you can tell him on this special day:
Buona Festa del Papà!
Happy Father’s Day!
Buona Festa del Babbo!
Happy Father’s Day!
Best wishes Dad!
Best wishes Dad!
Auguri is a word you can use on birthdays, patron saint days and holidays to give someone your best wishes. Learn more about how to use auguri.
WHY IS FATHER’S DAY IN MARCH IN ITALY?
In the United States, UK, Canada, and scores of other countries worldwide, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. So why is Father’s Day different in Italy? The reason has to do with the Catholic calendar.
In fact, predominately-Catholic countries in Europe like Italy, Spain, Portugal (along with other countries elsewhere in the world), celebrate Father’s Day on March 19 because it is the saint day of San Giuseppe, or Saint Joseph. Yes, that would be Joseph as in Jesus’ human father, Mary’s husband, and the archetypal father figure.
Catholics have been celebrating Saint Joseph’s feast day for at least 500 years, since the Church designated March 19 as La Festa di San Giuseppe. Since the 14- or 1500s, the Feast of Saint Joseph has also been a day that Catholics celebrate fathers and fatherhood. In fact, up until the late 1970s San Giuseppe was even an official public holiday, or festivo.
Father’s Day in the US is actually a much younger holiday: it dates back to 1910, when it was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd. Other countries around the world celebrate Father’s Day on various days during the year, according to their own religions and traditions.
HOW FATHER’S DAY IS CELEBRATED ITALY
The Feast of Saint Joseph is no longer a public holiday in Italy, so people go to work and school on Father’s Day. But since it is intertwined with a religious holiday, Father’s Day in Italy has plenty of traditional local town traditions for Saint Joseph, especially in Sicily.
In the towns of inland Sicily, where San Giuseppe is especially revered, there is the local tradition of tavolate di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph tablefuls), also known as altari di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph altars). Tables are set with a bounty of delicacies offered to Saint Joseph.
The city of La Spezia, Liguria has public celebrations on March 19 to honor Saint Joseph, the city’s patron saint.
In Italy at large, some families celebrate their dads on Father’s Day with a special meal at home or in a restaurant. At school, teachers talk about Festa del Papà, and school children sometimes memorize a poem. Kids usually make a card or a small gift for their dads at school. You’ll find tips for writing your own card below.
For the rest of us, the best part of Father’s Day in Italy is enjoying the special sweets! Drum roll please …
SWEETS FOR FATHER’S DAY IN ITALY
Father’s Day often coincides with carnevale, the carnival period when there are plenty of delicious regional desserts. Not only that, there are special pastries and desserts dedicated specifically to Saint Joseph! And what’s more, most are fried, keeping with the tradition to eat fried sweets. For example:
In Rome, there are Bignè di San Giuseppe, made of fried choux pastry and filled with pastry cream.
In Naples, there are Zeppole di San Giuseppe: fried donuts of choux pastry topped with pastry cream and sour cherries.
In Emilia-Romagna there are raviole, which are like cookies. A raviola is a short crust half moon filled with mostarda bolognese, a pear and quince jam. In Trebbo di Reno, outside of Bologna, there is even a Festa della Raviola, or raviola festival held every year.
In Tuscany, we have Fritelle di San Giuseppe: darling little rice fritters rolled in sugar. While I have taste-tested and compared frittelle from all the local bakeries, the best ones I’ve ever had are made by the frittellai (fritella makers) at the temporary wooden hut set up in Siena’s Piazza del Campo in March.
In Sicily there are many St. Joseph sweets, but the most famous are Sfince di San Giuseppe: fried dough pastries topped with ricotta cream and chocolate chips, and decorated with orange peel. These delicious pastries have even been included on the government’s list of prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali (PAT), or traditional food products.
HOW TO WRITE A CARD FOR FATHER’S DAY IN ITALIAN
Italian school children often make a bigliettino, or card, for their fathers on Festa del Papà. Here are some tips for writing your own.
Start out with:
Caro Papà, or Caro Babbo,
For the body of your card there are many phrases you can use in addition to Buona Festa del Papà (Happy Father’s Day) and Auguri (Best wishes) above. For example:
Papà/Babbo sei . . .
Dad you are . . .
unico one of a kind
Sei il miglior papà/babbo del mondo!
You’re the best Dad in the world!
Ti voglio bene papà/babbo.
I love you Dad.
In Italian there are two ways to say I love you, so make sure you use the right one to avoid a weird misunderstanding! Ti voglio bene (literally, I want you well), is reserved for friends and family. Ti amo is for telling a special someone that you love them in a romantic way.
Then sign your name with:
Il tuo xxxxx, Your (male name),
La tua xxxxx, Your (female name),
Con affetto, With love,