National Dante Day, or Dantedi as the Italians call it, celebrates the life and works of the incredible Italian writer, Dante Alighieri, on March 25. Alighieri is most famous for his masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy,” which chronicled his journey to Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
Alighieri is a great symbol of Italian genius. In fact, his work helped to create and promote the Italian language. On National Dante Day, hundreds of readings and exhibitions are held all over Italy to honor the man who wrote perhaps the greatest literary work in the Italian language.
If you’re a lover of great literature, divinity, or Italy, you simply have to join Italy in celebrating the man they refer to as ‘il Sommo Poeta,’ which means ‘the Supreme Poet.’
History of National Dante Day
National Dante Day, or Dantedi, was created by the Italian government in 2020 in honor of the talented poet, Dante Alighieri.
Alighieri wrote what is considered to be one of the most important poems of the Middle Ages and the single greatest literary work written in the Italian language. He is part of the ‘tre corone’ or ‘three crowns’ of Italian literature, alongside Petrarch and Boccaccio.
Poetry wasn’t Alighieri’s only contribution to the Italian heritage. His work was actually instrumental in establishing the modern-day standardized Italian language. He is often referred to as the father of the Italian language. He wrote in vernacular Italian at a time when most poetry was only written in Latin, which was only accessible to educated readers. His work set a precedent for other Italian writers to follow.
In March 1302, Alighieri was condemned to exile for two years and ordered to pay a large fine because of his affiliation with the White Guelph at a time when the Black Guelphs had taken over the government. He was also accused of corruption and financial wrongdoing. Alighieri did not pay the fine because he did not believe he was guilty and his assets in Florence were seized by the Black Guelphs. This meant he was condemned to perpetual exile — unless he paid the fine, he would be burnt at the stake if he returned to Florence.
It was during this exile that Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy, as well as most of his other work. He spent his last days in Ravenna, where he had been invited to stay by the prince of the city.
The city of Florence came to regret having exiled Alighieri, and they made many requests for the return of his body, but their requests were denied.
National Dante Day timeline
Although no one knows the exact date, Alighieri is born this year in Florence.
Dante serves as a city prior, which is the highest position in Florence, for about two months.
Pope Benedict XV names Alighieri as the pride and glory of humanity and one of the celebrated geniuses the Catholic faith can boast about.
Almost seven centuries after Dante’s death, the city council of Florence passes a motion rescinding the sentence that condemned him to perpetual exile and officially apologizes.
National Dante Day FAQs
Why is March 25 National Dante Day?
The Italian government picked March 25 as National Dante Day because it is the day scholars believe he began his fictional journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven, which he described in his book “The Divine Comedy.”
What hashtags celebrate Alighieri on social media?
You can celebrate National Dante Day on social media by using the official hashtags: #Dantedi and #loleggoDante. You can replace #loleggoDante with its English interpretation #IreadDante
Is his death mask real?
There is a copy of Alighieri’s death mask which has been displayed in the town hall of Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, since 1911. However, many scholars believe it is not a real death mask and that it was probably carved in 1483, 162 years after he died.
How to Celebrate Dante Day
There is no better way to celebrate than by reading some of Alighieri’s famous works. If you haven’t read his work before, be ready to enter an immersive world of beautiful divinity. If you’re a hard-core fan who has read all of Alighieri’s works, take this time to re-read them and bask in the wonder of his writing. You can go further by reading the books in their original Italian.
Visit his tomb
You can celebrate National Dante Day by going to his burial site in Ravenna to pay your respects to this great poet. You can also take in some of the sights there like the golden iron Greek Cross blessed by Pope Francis and donated by Pope Paul VI. Interestingly, Alighieri also has a tomb built in his hometown of Florence, even though his remains are not there.
Recite the opening and closing lines of the “Inferno”
The Italians have started a tradition of reciting the “Inferno” on National Dante Day. At 6 p.m. on March 25, you can join millions of Alighieri’s fans around the world by gathering on your balcony and declaiming the opening and closing lines of one of his most famous works.
5 Facts About Dante And The Divine Comedy
Just a comedy at first
Alighieri called his work “Commedia” (comedy) as an indicator that it had a happy ending, but Boccaccio was the one who called it “Divina” (divine).
A most amazing muse
Even though he was married to another woman, in much of his work, Alighieri praises and proclaims his love for a woman named Beatrice who he met when he was 12 and who died at the age of 25.
His son was a poet too
One of Alighieri’s three children, Jacopo Alighieri, followed in the footsteps of his father and became a poet
He was a pharmacist
Alighieri joined the Physicians’ and Apothecaries’ Guild, most likely because participation in politics in Italy at the time required one to be a member of a commercial or artisanal guild.
Symbolic number three
Dante believed the number three was symbolic and the number recurred throughout the Divine Comedy — three Cantiche, 33 Cantos, 9 Circles of Hell, three Wild Animals, e.t.c.
Why We Love National Dante Day
It celebrates a great writer
Alighieri is one of the greatest writers, not just in Italy, but in the world. His descriptive and detailed works are a cornerstone of literature. The world often leaves the arts unattended to, so we love that there is a day specially set to honor one of the world’s greatest writers and Italy’s Supreme Poet.
It rights a wrong
The truth is that Alighieri was underappreciated in his time. He suffered wrongful exile and his hometown turned its back on him. National Dante Day rights the wrongs that were done in his time. The Italian government, particularly in Florence, uses this time to show their respect for Dante and regret how he was treated.
It celebrates Italian heritage and language
You cannot discuss Alighieri without discussing his place in Italy’s rich history and language. Alighieri is often called the father of the Italian language because of his influence in the establishment of the amazing modern-day standardized Italian language. National Dante Day doesn’t just celebrate him — it celebrates Italy.
National Dante Day dates