Le festività


One of the most common stereotypes is that in Italy people always have something to celebrate. It is not quite like that. Italians have no more holidays than the French, the British, or the American people. Many of the most popular Italian holidays are not just Italian but shared with all the western world. A few have been recently imported (think about Halloween). Others yet are typically Italian.

Listen to the audio file and find the corresponding images below.  Then click here for the answers.

Best Wishes
You have already probably noticed that when Italians express their good wishes, they use the word buono (good). The word buono is a way of hoping it goes well. Italians use it on everyday occasions (buon giorno, buon lavoro, buon appetito, buona fortuna, etc.), as well as on holiday greetings and wishes in personal celebrations, where Americans use happy or merry (felice). Remember that buono is an adjective and so must agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies. Below you learn the most popular of them. To practice on vocabulary and pronunciation, use Quizlet.
Below you find verbs, words, and useful expressions related to occasions for celebration. To practice on vocabulary and pronunciation, use Quizlet.

Note: a) The word auguri is often used in a fuller expression (auguri di ...) that specifies the event: Auguri di buon compleanno, Fare gli auguri di buon Natale.  Auguri is a plural noun and it is often accompanied by tanti (tanti auguri, to mean many good wishes; b) The word festa and its pl. feste both indicates occasions for celebration, but they don’t always refer to the same thing: la festa di compleannobirthday party‘, le feste (= le festività pl. f.) ‘holidays‘; c) Salute! and Cin Cin! are both well-wishing Italian cheers. The former literally means “health” and can be easily compared to the English “to your health,” while the latter mimics the sound of the glasses clinking during a happy occasion.

Italian Holidays
If some Italian holidays are similar to those celebrated throughout the world, many others are unique to Italy and reflect Italian culture, history, and religious practices. Below you learn the most popular of them. Italy has twelve days that are “National Holidays” when government offices, banks, schools, and many businesses close down. To practice on vocabulary and pronunciation, use Quizlet.

Capodanno New Year’s Day
Epifania / La Befana Epiphany (January 6)
The Epiphany is celebrated on the sixth of January and marks the end of the Christmas season, as the Italian saying goes L’Epifania tutte le feste porta via (Epiphany takes all the holidays away). Italians usually refer to this day as Befana, because it is a tradition that children wake up to find presents from la Befana, an old and benevolent woman all trussed up in old clothes and shoes and flying on a broomstick.
Pasqua Easter
Pasquetta Easter Monday
It is a national holiday celebrated on the day after Easter. The Easter celebration continues and Italians traditionally head to a park or the countryside, usually for a picnic.
Festa della Liberazione Liberation day (April 25)
It commemorates the liberation of Italy by Allied troops and Italian Resistance at the end of the Second World War. Many Italian cities celebrate the day with marching bands, demonstrations, parades, food festivals, political rallies and other types of public gatherings.
Festa dei Lavoratori Labor day (May 1)
It is an important day created in honor and defense of laborers and an occasion for left political parties to hit the street and protest their cause. In any case, the atmosphere is usually festive and in the major Italian cities are free all-day concerts. The largest taking place in Piazza San Giovanni in Rome. Over half a million people attend every year to hear not only famous Italian artists but also artists renowned worldwide. Since it’s so close to Liberation Day, many Italians take a vacation from April 25 through May 1.
Festa della Repubblica Republic Day (June 2)
The second of June marks the day in 1946 when Italy voted in a referendum to abolish the monarchy and become a republic.
Ferragosto Mid-August Day (August 15)
On this day the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. However, Ferragosto was a holiday in Italy long before it took on a religious significance and for many Italians, it simply means one of the best times of the year. The cities are literally empty and the beaches full of people enjoying the sun and water.
Tutti i Santi / Ognissanti All Saints Day (November 1)
This day is associated strongly with Catholic tradition and belief. All Saints celebrates the memory of every Catholic saint and martyr. Together with “I morti” (All Souls’ day), celebrated the day after, is considered as a moment to reflect and remember the departed.
Immacolata Concezione Day of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)
This day is strictly a religious holiday and commemorates the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Natale Christmas (December 25)
Santo Stefano St. Stephen’s Day (January 26)
The day after Christmas is also a national holiday. The Saint is the first martyr of Christianity.

Next to these National Holidays, when the great majority of Italians are out of work, there are other days that are “observed” seriously by Italians. Among them there is Carnevale (Carnival) that Italian celebrates by parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music; San Valentino (Valentine’s Day) a cultural and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love, despite his religious origins; La Festa della Donna (Women’s Day) when on March 8, the flowers of the mimosa are presented to women all across the country in celebration of their day; La notte di San Silvestro or L’ultimo dell’anno (New Year’s Eve).

  • Repeat over and over the new vocabulary and use Speech to Text to check if the computer recognizes your pronunciation.
  • Work with another student. Take turns asking and answering questions of this type: Che festa è il 25 di dicembre?  Then check if there are mistakes in your spoken Italian using Speech to Text.
  • Answer in writing the following questions and check if there are mistakes in your text using Spell and Grammar Checker:
    • Che cosa hai fatto lo scorso anno per Natale?
    • Come festeggi il tuo compleanno?
    • Quando fai gli auguri di Buon anno?
    • Con chi festeggi le feste?

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