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  • Writer's pictureJane Griffin

Buon Natale a Tutti

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

Buon Natale, which corresponds to Merry Christmas in Italian, is typically only used during the month of December. But, there was at least one person who used it all year round - my father. My father was, let’s say, challenged by foreign languages. He loved the idea of speaking a foreign language - he lived many years in France, and participated on numerous missionary trips around the world. Nonetheless, language skills did not come naturally to him.

But, saying Buon Natale came naturally to him! And, being a person who loved to spread joy, he fully embraced the phrase and used it year long! In fact, when I was working in Italy, and a call from my father would arrive, whether it be April, August or December, he would greet whoever answered with the phrase “Buon Natale”. Whoever answered the phone knew it was my father!

One time, when visiting me in Italy over the holidays, it was perfect. He could use the phrase each time we entered a store, a restaurant, or passed a person on the street. But, then, Natale passed, and dad was still there. So, confident in his language abilities, he asked me, as we were nearing a restaurant on New Year’s Eve, “how do you say Happy New Year”? I responded “Buon Anno”, this seemed simple enough to him. But, I had not made the nuance of the double “n” clear. As we entered the restaurant, he tried out his new phrase, but without the due emphasis on the double ”n”, it came out as “buon ano”, which translates to “happy anus”.

Needless to say, as soon as I explained the stunned reaction of the waiter, my father returned to his proven phrase “buon natale” and used it religiously, regardless of the day of the year!

Speaking of Natale, we would like to wish you all a Buon Natale and Buone Feste di Natale (Happy Christmas Holidays), and thought that sharing the holiday traditions celebrated in Italy would be a good way to do that. So, today is the first of a mini-series of holiday tidbits. Throughout this series, we will share with you, history, culture, culinary favorites and legends that make up the Christmas holidays in Italy.

The Italians celebrate the Christmas holidays from December 8 through January 6. In this series you will learn why. Let's start with a toast to the holidays (see our recipe page to make yourself a holiday cocktail) and through this video, learn about ”La Festa del 8 Dicembre”, the celebration of December 8th.

The next important day during the Feste di Natale is December 13th, the day of Santa Lucia. Learn more about the role of Santa Lucia in the Christmas season by viewing this video.

The Nativity, Il Presepio in Italian, is a very central element to the holiday festivities in Italy. You can learn about the history and the ongoing tradition of the Nativity in this video.

Buon Natale to all - we will share one more tidbit after the first of the year. As we said, the Italians consider the holiday season through January 6, so we have one more story to tell!

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