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Why Do Italians Eat Zeppole on St. Joseph’s Day?

Many Italians spend St. Joseph's Day enjoying scrumptious zeppole! But have you ever wondered why?

First of all, can we appreciate how incredible these zeppole from Il Giardino Del Dolce in Chicago look? If you are in the Chicago-land area, stopping at this bakery is a MUST! 

Zeppole di San Giuseppe are crispy, cream-filled pastries made on St. Joseph’s Day. There are numerous variations of these pastries, including chocolate and pistachio zeppole! However, traditional zeppole are topped with cherries, similar to cannoli. 

March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day in many countries, including America and Italy. It is also Father’s Day in Italy! Italian bakeries across the country work hours on end baking these wonderful treats for all to enjoy!

Origin of Zeppole

In the middle ages, Sicily experienced a drought that threatened famine. Sicilians prayed to St. Joseph for rain. In return, they promised to praise him in the form of a feast. Many Italian-Americans still have a feast on March 19th. They fill a table with an array of food and desserts, including pasta with breadcrumbs, soups, figs, olives, and zeppole.

This celebration has been held annually since the middle ages.
The celebration was for all, rich or poor. Wealthier families prepared larger tables of food and invited the poor to come and eat. The proceeds of the food were given to the poor, and this tradition continues.

Pasquale Pintauro, a baker from Naples, is credited for popularizing eating zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day in the 19th century!

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