Italian expression of the day: 'Buon Natale'

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 25 Dec, 2022 Updated Sun 25 Dec 2022 09:54 CEST
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There's no better time of year to learn this festive phrase.


We pretty sure you can guess what this one means: buon Natale is Italian for 'merry Christmas'.

It's all pretty straightforward: buon is 'good' and Natale is 'Christmas'. But word geeks (ourselves included) will be interested to see that the Italian word for Christmas comes from the Latin for 'day of birth'.

It's not just anyone's 'birthday' – that's compleanno, the day you 'complete the year' – but one birthday in particular: natalis dies Domini, or 'the day the Lord was born'. It's the same root that gave English the word 'Noel'.


Nat King Cole got the translation right in his 1959 song about "a quaint little town" in Italy where "the Christmas season is celebrated all year": as he sings, "Buon Natale in Italy means a Merry Christmas to you".

But his pronunciation isn't quite on point. Here's the proper way to wish it:

Or if you're looking for a few alternatives, you can also say buone feste ('happy holidays') or more formally, ti auguro un Natale pieno di amore, pace e felicità ('I wish you a Christmas filled with love, peace and happiness').

And with that, all of us at The Local wish buon Natale a tutti!

Do you have an Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.



The Local Italy 2022/12/25 09:54

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