However, Father’s Day in Italy, or La Festa del Papà, takes place much earlier in the year.

Italian children pay tribute to their papà on March 19, which is also the Festa di San Giuseppe, or the Feast Day of Saint Joseph.

The day is held in such high esteem in the Belpaese, that it was officially recognised as a national public holiday until 1977.

The earthly father of Jesus Christ and the patron saint of fathers, Saint Joseph is considered the embodiment of the perfect father figure and a symbol of unconditional love, compassion, kindness and acceptance.

The humble carpenter is not only admired for the love he demonstrated towards his son, but also towards others, including orphans and those suffering from poverty.

On March 19, many Italians make their way to church to pray to Saint Joseph, before meandering through special markets in honour of the occasion or participating in a local parade put on for the day.

Italian children shower their fathers with gifts, poems and cards, while the entire family sits down at the table for a feast of traditional Italian fare.

On this particular occasion, the meal is typically more sweet than savoury, featuring a spread of lip-smacking cakes and biscuits.

The most famous specialty on this day are bigne di San Giuseppe, pastry puffs made with flour, sugar, milk, butter, egg, and lemon rind, which can be deep fried in olive oil or baked.

These delicious sweets can be filled with a pastry cream or marmalade and are dusted with sugar and topped with black cherry.

As with many Italian specialties, these donut-like cakes vary from region to region, and are called zeppole in the South.

It’s believed the recipe dates back to 1837 and originates from the southern region of Campania.

In the Salento area of Puglia, people still observe an age-old tradition called the Tavole di San Giuseppe, or the Tables of Saint Joseph.

This practice is also commonplace in several Sicilian towns and occurs on the eve of the Festa del Papà.

Locals come together to set tables with a spread of pasta, vegetables, fried fish, pastries and wine for the poor to enjoy.

This tradition is continued today in commemoration of Saint Joseph and his boundless generosity.

While every father is a hero in his children’s eyes, Saint Joseph is adored by all Italians and is a true inspiration to live with compassion and love with a full heart.