The Language of the Italian Holidays

For our free, downloadable Christmas in Italy guide, Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, The World’s Most Enchanting Language, writes about the language of the Italian holiday season. Here are a few excerpts:

Days of Celebrations

Festivities such as fairs and torchlight processions begin weeks before and continue weeks after December 25. Here are the key dates to keep in mind if you are planning a trip:

December 8: La festa dell’Immacolata, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day honoring Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. In Rome, the Pope comes to the Piazza di Spagna to drop a garland of flowers around the statue of the Madonna (Since she tops a high column, firemen on ladders do the actual placement.)
December 12: La festa di Santa Lucia, the festival of lights
December 24: La vigilia di Natale (the vigil, or eve)
December 25: Natale, which literally translates as “birthday”
December 26: La festa di Santo Stefano, Saint Stephen’s day
December 31: La festa di San Silvestro, Saint Sylvester’s day, or New Year’s Eve (la vigilia di Capodanno)
January 1: Il Capodanno, literally the top of the year
January 6: L’Epifania, Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the Magi, the three wise men, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus from afar

Holiday Greetings

If you want to wish your Italian friends happy holidays, here are some greetings:

Buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
I migliori auguri di buone feste – Best wishes for good holiday
I più cari auguri per un sereno Natale e per un anno nuovo ricco di soddisfazioni – Dearest wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a fulfilling new year
Affettuosissimi auguri per un felice Natale – Most affectionate wishes for a happy Christmas
I migliori auguri per il Santo Natale e per il 2010 – Best wishes for Holy Christmas and for 2010

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