How to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian

How to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian

The holidays are a very festive time, and Christmas in Italy is no exception. Italians celebrate the holidays over several weeks, starting on December 8 until the day of Epiphany, on January 6. Whether you visit Italy during that time or want to brush up on your vocabulary, here is how to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian.

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Christmas in Italy

Italians celebrate Christmas much like many other cultures, including an abundance of twinkling lights, Christmas markets, festive trees, presents and family gatherings. They also love ornate nativity scenes (presepi), making this one of the most beloved festive traditions in Italy.

How to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian

St. Francis of Assisi popularized this practice in 1223 after visiting Bethlehem the year before, but the idea of a recreating Jesus’ birth goes even further. The first Nativity scene was staged in 1025 at the Church of S. Maria del presepe (Saint Mary of the Nativity) in Naples. Today, Naples is well-known for its Nativity scene craft, so if you’re looking to set up your own, this is the place to visit.

Celebrations between Christmas and New Year’s

Christmas celebrations begin on December 8 with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Festa dell’Immacolata Concezione). This is the time cities turn on the festive lights and families decorate their homes. 

On December 13, certain parts of the country celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day (Santa Lucia). Traditionally, Santa Lucia brought gifts to children on her donkey and much like they do for Santa Claus, the children would leave out tea for her and flour for her donkey. 

Beginning with the Novena (nine days) on December 16, families attend special masses for religious observations.  You’ll often see bagpipers (zampognari) playing festive songs at markets across the country. 

On December 24, Italians celebrate Christmas Eve (la vigilia di Natale) with family gatherings and Midnight Mass. Many families have their big dinners on this day before church, continuing the food and family gatherings on Christmas Day. Saint Stephen’s Day (Santo Stefano), known to North Americans as Boxing Day, is another opportunity for family gatherings and Christmas leftovers.

On New Year’s Eve (Capodanno), Italians celebrate with fireworks and parties, just like everyone else. The holiday celebrations come to an end with the Epiphany on January 6. This is when la Befana (Italian witch) flies in on her broom, leaving sweats for those that were good and coal for those that were bad.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian

How to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian

The most common way to say Merry Christmas in Italian is Buon Natale. Another common saying is Buon Feste, which translated to Happy Holidays. Often the two are used together, so you can say Buon Natale e Buone Feste. You might also use the shorter version of Auguri to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Italian.  

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo combines Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian. You can also say Felice Anno Nuovo (Happy New Year) or Buon Anno (good year). 

How to say Merry Christmas in Italian

AuguriBest wishes
Buon NataleMerry Christmas
Ti auguro un Buon NataleI wish you a Merry Christmas
Auguro a tutti Voi un Natale SerenoI wish you all a Merry Christmas
Buone FesteHappy Holidays
Buon Natale e Buone FesteMerry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Auguri per un Natale serenoBest wishes for a peaceful Christmas
Auguro a te e alla tua famiglia un sereno Natale Wishing you and your family a peaceful Christmas
Auguro a te e alla tua famiglia un Ti auguro un Natale pieno di amore e felicità I wish you a Christmas full of love and happiness
I miei migliori auguri per un Natale pieno di gioia  My very best wishes for a Christmas full of joy

Italian Christmas vocabulary

gli addobbi natalizi Christmas decorations
l’albero di Natale Christmas tree
Babbo Natale Santa Claus
il biglietto di Natale Christmas card
le canzoni di Natale Christmas carols
la cena di Natale Christmas dinner
la messa di Natale Christmas (church) service
i regali di Natale Christmas presents
il presepe Nativity scene
l’elfo / il folletto elf
la ghirlanda Christmas wreath
il pupazzo di neve snowman
la renna reindeer
i Re Magi the three wise kings
lo spirito natalizio the Christmas spirit
la vigilia di Natale Christmas Eve
il vischio mistletoe
bastoncino di zucchero candy cane
mercatini di Natale Christmas market
How to say Happy New Year in Italian

How to say Happy New Year in Italian

Buone feste e tanti auguriHappy Holidays and best wishes
Buon annoGood year
Felice Anno NuovoFelice Anno Nuovo
Auguri per un felice 2022Best wishes for a happy 2022
Buon anno! Auguri per un felice 2022!Happy New Year! Best wishes for a happy 2022!
CapodannoNew Year’s Eve 

Now that you know how to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian, you’re ready to go out and have fun. Italy is a great year-round destination, so why not visit during the holidays? It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and practice your Italian.

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2 thoughts on “How to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Italian”

  1. Now that you mention that, I think many Europeans do that. At least those that I know. Christmas Day is the bigger event in North America.

  2. Stefan (Berkeley Square Barbarian)

    Interesting to learn more about Italian traditions, Kasia. In Germany we celebrate on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day, too.

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