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Need to brush up on the Italian Christmas vocabulary? Any excuse to improve vocabulary and language skills is a good one. Try using these Italian Christmas season related words, greetings and phrases to impress friends and relatives at events and in Whatsapp/text messages or Christmas cards.  It may be too late this year for cards, but get a head start for next year! For a review of how to pronounce Italian words, and my own funky way of showing pronunciation, check out the post Italiano per Ristoranti-How to pronounce your restaurant menu.

In Italia, le Feste Natalizie-the Christmas Festivities/Holidays officially start on December 8th, which is la festa dell’Immacolata Concezione, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception.  This is a national holiday and the day most families put up their presepio and tree.  Le Feste Natalizie end on January 6th, l’Epifania or the Epiphany, which is also a national holiday.  January 6th the tree and decorations come down.  As the expression goes ‘L’Epifania tutte le feste porta via’-the Epiphany carries away all of the festivities.

Buon Natale (BWON na·TA·leh) is how Merry Christmas is expressed in Italiano.  Natale comes from the Latin ‘dies Natalis’ which means ‘day of birth’, so Buon Natale literally means ‘good day of birth’.  Buone Feste(BWON·eh FES·teh) which is ‘good festivities’ is also common.  This refers to the whole season, from December 8th to January 6th.

Auguri means best wishes

Tanti auguri di Buon Natale (TAN·tee ow·GOO·ree dee BWON na·TA·leh) = Lots of good wishes for a Merry Christmas

Ti/vi auguro un Buon Natale (tee ow·GOO·roh oon BWON na·TA·leh) = I wish you a Merry Christmas

Buone Feste can be used interchangeably in both of these phrases.

Auguri per le Feste Natalizie (ow·GOO·ree per leh FES ·teh na·tah·LEEZ·yeh) = Best wishes for the Christmas festivities/season

Auguri per un Natale sereno (ow·GOO·ree per oon na·TA·leh seh·REY·noh) = Best wishes for a serene/peaceful Christmas

I miei migliori auguri per un Buon Natale (ee MEE·ay mee·LYOH·ree ow·GOO·ree per oon BWON na·TA·leh) = My best wishes/greetings for a Merry Christmas.  ‘Per un Buon Natale’ can also be replaced with ‘per le Feste’.Panforte di Siena

Felice Anno Nuovo (feh·LEE·cheh anno NWOH·voh) = Happy New Year!

Cosa farai a Capodanno? (CO·sah FA·rahee a capoh·DAN·noh) = What are you doing New Year’s?

If someone wishes you well, reply with:

Grazie, altrettanto (GRA·zyeh al·tret·TANtoh) = Thank you!  Same to you! or with

Grazie, anche a te/voi (GRA·zyeh AN·kay a teh/voey) = Thank you, also to you.

What do I write in my cartoline di Natale? I tend to be extremely thorough in my positive greetings so I usually write something like this mini-essay:

Auguro a te e alla tua famiglia un Buonissimo Natale e un nuovo anno pieno di salute, pace, amore e gioia (ow·GOO·roh a teh eh AL·lah tooah fah·MEE·lyah oon bwon·ees·SEE·moh na·TA·leh eh oon noo·OH·voh AN·noh PYEH·noh dee sal·OO·teh, PAH·chay, am·OH·reh eh gee·OH·yah) = Wishing you and your family an extremely good Christmas and a new year filled with health, peace, love and joy.

Luci Natalizie di Mamma e Papa/ My parents’ Christmas lights

Vocabolario di Natale:

Addobbo/addobbi di Natale (ad·DOHB·boh/ ad·DOHB·bee) = Decorations and ornaments

Agrifoglio (ag·ree·FOH·lyoh) = Holly

Albero di Natale (al·BEHR·oh) =Christmas tree

Babbo Natale (BAB·boh na·TA·leh) = Father Christmas/Santa Claus

La Befana (beh·FAH·nah) = January 6th female gift-bringer

Calze (CAL·zeh) =socks/stockings

Capodanno (capoh·DAN·noh) = New Year’s -literally ‘top of the year’

Cartolina di Natale/d’auguri (car·toh·LEE·nah di na·TA·leh) = Greeting card

Ceppo (CHEP·poh) = yule log

Dolci di Natale (DOL·chee dee na·TA·leh) = Christmas sweets

Elfi (EL·fee) =elves

Gesù Bambino (JEH·suh bam·BEE·noh) = Baby Jesus

Luci (LOO·chee) = lights

Presepio or Presepe (pre·sep·PEE·oh) = Nativity scene, creche

Pupazzo di neve (poo·PATZ·zoh dee NEH·veh) = Snow person

Regalo/regali (reh·GAL·oh/ reh·GAL·lee) = present/presents

Renne (REN•neh) = reindeer

Santo Stefano = December 26th Boxing Day

San Silvestro = New Year’s Eve

Slitta (SLEET·tah) = sleigh

La vigilia di Natale (vee·gee·lyah dee na·TA·leh) = Christmas Eve

Zampognaro (zam·poh·NYAR·oh) Abbruzzese bagpiping shepherd

Click on the links to read more about some of these vocabolario items!  Let me know in the comments if you get to use any new words this Natale!

Cari Lettori di Un po’ di pepe…..Auguro a voi e alle vostre famiglie un Buonissimo Natale e un nuovo anno pieno di salute, pace, amore e gioia!  Baci e abbracci, Cristina