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Archive for the 'Italian Holidays' Category

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Italian

How to Say Merry Christmas in Italian

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Italian? ItalianPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Italian Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Italian speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, ItalianPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Italian!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Italy
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How ItalianPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Italy

Christmas Words in Italian

Almost everyone is familiar with Christmas, but do you know that in Italy it’s the most important festival of the year?

Christmas is above all a Catholic festival; in fact, it coincides with the birth of Jesus Christ, but in reality the origins of this festival are much older. Today even non-believers celebrate it. In this lesson, we’ll talk about how Italians celebrate Christmas.

Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you-

Do you know why the price of the fish increases dramatically before Christmas in Italy?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

In Italian homes, Christmas preparations begin long before December 25. It’s a tradition to start decorating the Christmas tree, whether its fake or real fir, from December 8. In many homes, mainly in southern Italy, families prepare a nativity scene representing the birth of Jesus in addition to the tree. There are various traditions for this, but the most famous is one from Naples. In Via San Gregorio Armeno, there is a permanent market with the nativity scene which can be visited all year.

Meanwhile, in many cities in northern Italy, Christmas markets are held from December 8 to January 6. Among the most famous are those of Trento and Bolzano, where you can buy decorations, gifts, and various kinds of sweets. Among the most traditional Christmas sweets is the torrone, which is simple but delicious, and made with egg whites, sugar, honey, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios.

For Italians, the most important moment of Christmas is the Christmas Eve dinner. Usually everyone goes back to their parents’ house to eat together and wait for midnight. Dinner almost always involves fish. The most typical dish is the codfish. Among the treats are panettone, a sweet bread from Milan, and pandoro, a sweet bread from Verona. Finally at midnight the exchange of the gifts under the Christmas tree takes place. Naturally, this is the moment Italian children are most eager for.

For many years Italians have also been very fond of the so-called “cine-panettone,” a comic film broadcast every year during the winter holidays.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

Do you know why the price of fish increases dramatically before Christmas in Italy?

It’s because everyone wants to eat it! In fact, according to Catholic tradition, it’s good to fast and especially to avoid eating meat on December 24 as a sign of respect for Jesus, who was born in poverty.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Buon Natale!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Italian? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Felice Kwanzaa!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Passa un felice Anno Nuovo!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Felice Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Passa una bella vacanza invernale!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

Ci vediamo l’anno prossimo!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

I miei più cari auguri!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Italian Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Buone vacanze!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Italian, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Godetevi le vacanze!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Italian, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

I migliori auguri per il nuovo anno!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Italian! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At ItalianPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Natale

This is the Italian word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Italian will include this word!

2- Snow

pupazzo di neve

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

fiocco di neve

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

pupazzo di neve

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

tacchino

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

ghirlanda

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

renna

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Babbo Natale

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

elfo

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph la renna dal naso rosso

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

Polo Nord

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

slitta

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

regalo

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

campana

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

camino

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

caminetto

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

Natale

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

decorazione

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

calza

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

agrifoglio

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

casa di marzapane

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

bastoncino di zucchero

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

vischio

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Italian, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Italian! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

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Italian Culture - Assumption Day/Assunzione or Ferragosto – Italian

Assumption Day/Assunzione or Ferragosto – Italian

Assumption Day observes that Mary, the mother of Jesus died and her body was united with her soul and ascended to heaven instead of enduring the physical decaying of the body through normal death. It has been a belief of the Roman Catholic faith since the fourth century CE and is celebrated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Harvest.

This day was once a pagan holiday until it was decided to be Christianized and make it solely about the Virgin Mary. Before, it was first celebrated in honor of the goddess of the Isis of the Sea who was said to be born on this particular day according to myths that have been spreading.

Ferragosto (Assumption Day) is celebrated on August 15th in Italy. The Italians will hold festivals locally throughout the cities where their regional and low priced cuisine is available for sampling. There are many who use this time to go on their seasonal vacations to the seaside where there are some festivals ongoing there. There are sometimes festivals with a medieval theme and people dressed in such costumes. Performances outdoor during that time is filled with music and dancing.

The Italians in Italy and all over the world go all out with their celebration with fireworks and bright processions in the streets. The main event on that day in Sicily, Rome is a bowing procession. The Virgin Mary’s statute is carried through the streets dressed with flowers and a statute of Jesus waits for her at a different location. The procession heads back to the church where an important benediction takes place.

In the past, people would flood the Italian plazas and go for carriage rides through lakes that were temporarily constructed. They would carry rose scented water in bowls that they use to sprinkle on themselves.

Italians extend their celebration to superstitious believe of throwing coins through their windows on to the streets. The color blue is used to symbolize the truth about the Virgin Mary and as an indication that the color of the sky is blue, which is symbolic also of heaven.

Italian Culture - Republic Day/Festa della Repubblica in Italy

Everyone knows how important holidays are especially when they symbolize a specific event in your life. In Italy, for example, there are people who experienced the change in their government and use this public holiday, Republic Day, as a reminder of how important that occasion is.

This holiday is also known as Festa della Repubblica and it was created after a referendum in 1946 was filed by the Italian government to change from being a Monarchy to becoming a Republic government. The House of Savoy ran the monarchy. The entire population of Italy was asked to vote on this referendum and the majority ruled.

The Italians celebrate this holiday on the second day of June each year and they treat it just as important as the United States treat their Fourth of July holiday. It is considered to be the National Holiday of Italy.

After World War II, the Italians saw the fall of Fascism take place in their country, which made it quite clear that the eighty five year old Monarchy government would fall with it. The Monarchs were exiled and a rebirth of a nation took place.

On June second of each year, the Italians hold a large military parade that takes up the streets of Central Rome. This event is attended by the Prime Minister of Italian and other Political dignitaries and authorities.

The holiday parade lasts for about an hour and ends with fighter jet planes flying over the area leaving a colorful smoke behind that represented the colors of the Italian flag. The parade consists of different military branches and personnel as well as firefighters, police and the Red Cross following behind the motorcade with the Italian President in it.

Italians look forward to celebrating the Republic Day every year because of the reminder of how fortunate and liberated they are today and how the past has shaped their country. When they look back at the Monarchy and its rule, fascism leaves a bad taste of the government rule at that time. Now that all that is behind them, Republic Day seems a welcomed change.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From ItalianPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at ItalianPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Italian together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Italian with ItalianPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the ItalianPod101.com team!