Italian Christmas: How To Say Christmas & More Words In Italian

7 December 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
The Santa Clauses / Disney+

In Italian folklore, the legend of La Befana is an ancient one. It is even believed that its origins go all the way back to the 13th century. And like many other old folk stories, La Befana’s story comes in different versions. But one popular classic goes like this:

As the Three Kings were on their journey to find the baby boy Jesus, they ran into La Befana sweeping and cleaning her modest house. The Three Magi kindly asked her for a place to stay for the night, some food to eat, and directions to Bethlehem. Without any hesitation, La Befana offered them a place to stay, shared some food to eat, and gave directions to Bethlehem. The next day, the Kings thanked the old woman for her kindness and generosity throughout their stay. They also gave her an invitation to join their trip in search of the new baby. But La Befana turned down the offer because she had so much housework left to do. So the Kings left without her. And La Befana was back to checking off her list of chores, one by one. Later that day, she realized that the baby the Three Wise Men were about to see was a very special baby. This baby born in Bethlehem was the Christ Child, the baby Jesus. Therefore, she really should have gone with them. Besides, her long list of chores could wait. And, right away, she decided to pack up a lot of presents and go on her journey to Bethlehem to see the baby. She hopped on her broomstick and flew from house to house dropping gifts in each, hoping that the newborn baby Jesus might be in one of those homes.

And that’s the story of the not-so-wicked Christmas witch of Italy. In Italia, it is very common to hear La Befana’s name around the holiday season. But La Befana isn’t the only word you’ll hear this time around. What other words are usually heard this time? Scroll on and find out!

  • christmas tree: l’albero di Natale (lal-beh-roh di na-ta-leh)
  • Santa Claus: Babbo Natale (bah-boh nah-tah-leh)
  • mistletoe: il vischio (il vees-kyo)
  • Merry Christmas: Buon Natale (bwon nah-tah-leh)
  • Christmas Eve: la vigilia di Natale (lah vee-jeel-ya di nah-tah-leh)
  • I wish you all a Merry Christmas: Auguro a tutti voi un Natale sereno (aw-gu-roh ah tu-ti voy un nah-tah-leh se-re-noh)
  • ornaments: gli addobbi (gli ah-do-bi)
  • angel: l'angelo (lahn-je-lo)
  • snow: neve (neh-veh)
  • snowflake: fiocco di neve (fyo-koh di neh-veh)
  • snowman: pupazzo di neve (pu-pah-tzo di neh-veh)
  • reindeer: la renna (lah reh-na)
  • elf: l’elfo (lel-fo), il foletto (il foh-leh-toh)
  • sleigh: slitta (slit-tah)
  • candy cane: bastoncino di zucchero (bas-ton-chee-noh di zoo-ker-ro)
  • nativity scene: presepio (pre-sep-yo)
  • bell: campana (kam-pah-nah)
  • Christmas markets: Mercatini di Natale (mer-ka-ti-ni di nah-tah-leh)
  • Christmas presents: regali di Natale (reh-gah-li di nah-tah-leh)
  • North Pole: Polo Nord (poh-loh nord)
  • gingerbread house: casa di marzapane (ka-za di mar-tza-pah-neh)
  • stocking: la calza (lah kal-za)
  • Christmas movie: film di Natale (film di nah-tah-leh)
  • chocolate: cioccolato (cho-koh-lah-toh)
  • Christmas day: il giorno di Natale (il jor-noh di nah-tah-leh)
  • Happy holidays: Buone Feste (bwo-neh fes-teh)