The 25th of March in Italy is Dante Day (in Italian, “Dantedì”).
It is a day to celebrate Dante Alighieri, the Florentine author of The Divine Comedy, written in the early 1300s.
The 25th of March is reputedly the date on which Dante begins his journey ascending to heaven by foot in The Divine Comedy. At the time, it was Good Friday, 25th March, 1300.
Dante’s journey upwards takes him through circles or terraces that he must walk through on his upwards trek. Two of those levels involve gluttony: the third circle of hell, and the sixth terrace of purgatory. On that sixth terrace, he meets some hungry people. Doing penance for having been obsessed with food in life, they are forced to walk around a tree with fruit, and be within sight of running water, without being able to reach either. Even though they are spirits and don’t need food, they still appear emaciated. Drzakowski, Kevin. Hungry are the Not Damned: Hunger as Divine in Dante’s. Food in the Arts web site. Accessed February 2021 at http://www.londonfoodfilmfiesta.co.uk/Academic/Hunger%20as%20Divine.htm A disembodied voice comes out of a fruit tree citing examples of temperance in consumption: the women of Rome, Mary, Daniel and John the Baptist. As Dante leaves the sixth terrace, an angel says to him, “Blessed are they who are so illumined by grace that the love of food does not kindle their desires beyond what is fitting.”
To celebrate today, you could cook some classic Tuscan food, such as acquacotta, ribolita, or lampredotto.
Or you could do a three part meal to reflect the three parts of the book — hell, purgatory and heaven — and for the hell level, serve something hot such as chiles.
#Commedia #Dantedì #IoleggoDante
See also: Tuscan food
Dante was born in Florence, Italy circa 1265 and died in Ravenna, Italy in September 1321. He was living in Ravenna when he wrote The Divine Comedy; he had been politically exiled from Florence. Now that he’s famous, Florence, of course, being Florence, now takes all the credit for his work, and wants Ravenna to return his tomb.
The day was first proposed by Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini, and first observed in 2020.
Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic at the time of this launch, all the events were online.
People in Italy were asked to read the beginning of the Divine Comedy from their windows at 6 pm. Dantedì: celebrating the father of the Italian language on March 25. The Florentine. 23 March 2020. Accessed February 2021 at https://www.theflorentine.net/2020/03/23/dantedi-dante-day/
Florence TV (Firenze TV) posted readings on their Youtube channel. The Uffizi art gallery did a virtual exhibition of “Dantesque images”.
Alberto Farinelli from the Perugina School of Chocolate made a three tiered chocolate cake with each tier representing a level in the Divine Comedy. The bottom levels had red flames made of sugar paste to represent hell. Dantedì, dalla Scuola del Cioccolato Perugina arriva la torta dedicata a Dante. 25 March 2020. Accessed February 2021 at https://libreriamo.it/societa/cibo/dantedi-dalla-scuola-del-cioccolato-perugina-arriva-la-torta-dedicata-a-dante/
The Italian name for the day, “Dantedì” draws on “dì“, which is an archaic, more formal word in Italian for “day”, coming from the Latin word for day, “dies“.
CANTO XXII to CANTO XXIV (Translated by Henry Francis Cary, published 1805-1814. From Project Gutenberg.)
“For midway of the road
A tree we found, with goodly fruitage hung,
And pleasant to the smell: and as a fir
Upward from bough to bough less ample spreads,
So downward this less ample spread, that none.
Methinks, aloft may climb. Upon the side,
That clos’d our path, a liquid crystal fell
From the steep rock, and through the sprays above
Stream’d showering. With associate step the bards
Drew near the plant; and from amidst the leaves
A voice was heard: “Ye shall be chary of me;”
And after added: “Mary took more thought
For joy and honour of the nuptial feast,
Than for herself who answers now for you.
The women of old Rome were satisfied
With water for their beverage. Daniel fed
On pulse, and wisdom gain’d. The primal age
Was beautiful as gold; and hunger then
Made acorns tasteful, thirst each rivulet
Run nectar. Honey and locusts were the food,
Whereon the Baptist in the wilderness
Fed, and that eminence of glory reach’d
And greatness, which the’ Evangelist records.”…
Who would deem, that scent
Of water and an apple, could have prov’d
Powerful to generate such pining want…
The water and tee plant we pass’d,
Virtue possesses, by th’ eternal will
Infus’d, the which so pines me. Every spirit,
Whose song bewails his gluttony indulg’d
Too grossly, here in hunger and in thirst
Is purified. The odour, which the fruit,
And spray, that showers upon the verdure, breathe,
Inflames us with desire to feed and drink.”…
The branches of another fruit, thick hung,
And blooming fresh, appear’d. E’en as our steps
Turn’d thither, not far off it rose to view.
Beneath it were a multitude, that rais’d
Their hands, and shouted forth I know not What
Unto the boughs; like greedy and fond brats,
That beg, and answer none obtain from him,
Of whom they beg; but more to draw them on,
He at arm’s length the object of their wish
Above them holds aloft, and hides it not.
At length, as undeceiv’d they went their way:
And we approach the tree, who vows and tears
Sue to in vain, the mighty tree. “Pass on,
And come not near. Stands higher up the wood,
Whereof Eve tasted, and from it was ta’en
Dishes That May Have Been On Dante’s Table https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2014/05/02/italys-treasures-dante-alighieri (half way down page)
Arielle Saiber and Elizabeth Coggeshall. The Inferno Steak, Eggs in Purgatory, and 9 Layers of Chocolate Heaven. Dante Today blog. Accessed March 2021 at https://research.bowdoin.edu/dante-today/tag/recipes/
Mattarella, Sergio. Dante, nostro contemporaneo. Milan, Italy: Corriere della Sera. 3 October 2020. Accessed February 2020 at https://www.corriere.it/cultura/20_ottobre_03/sergio-mattarella-dante-nostro-contemporaneo-cosi-sua-voce-parla-futuro-5416bf66-05a5-11eb-867c-57744a2cabe2.shtml
|↑1||Drzakowski, Kevin. Hungry are the Not Damned: Hunger as Divine in Dante’s. Food in the Arts web site. Accessed February 2021 at http://www.londonfoodfilmfiesta.co.uk/Academic/Hunger%20as%20Divine.htm|
|↑2||Dantedì: celebrating the father of the Italian language on March 25. The Florentine. 23 March 2020. Accessed February 2021 at https://www.theflorentine.net/2020/03/23/dantedi-dante-day/|
|↑3||Dantedì, dalla Scuola del Cioccolato Perugina arriva la torta dedicata a Dante. 25 March 2020. Accessed February 2021 at https://libreriamo.it/societa/cibo/dantedi-dalla-scuola-del-cioccolato-perugina-arriva-la-torta-dedicata-a-dante/|