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The ‘pending coffee’ and other solidarity initiatives

Added as a neologism (2020) to Italy’s Treccani Dictionary, the caffè sospeso (‘suspended coffee’) is “the originally Neapolitan custom of pre-paying a coffee for someone who might need it” (Treccani). And the 10th of December is ‘Caffè Sospeso Day’, established in 2011 to correspond with Human Rights Day. This custom, common by now throughout Europe (in London, for instance, it is called ‘pending coffee’), has uncertain origins: some trace it to Italian Unification and others to the interwar period, but what matters is that humanity preserve this excellent practice, adaptable to cultural context and the exigencies of time and place. For instance, the pending panettonecustom has arisen in Milan, followed by pending pizzas, meals, newspapers or toys all over Italy. Naples also originated the ‘pending tampon’ initiative, already common in Milan, to help individuals and families in need.