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Italian Lesson – April 2022


Easter is upon us. Therefore, it’s time to review a few practical expressions that you may have forgotten or might like to learn that are good to know to celebrate the holiday. Easter time is known in Italian as il Periodo Pasquale and is still firmly rooted in religious traditions. If you think che manca qualche parola (important words are missing) then they probably don’t yet play a significant role in Italy during the Pascal season. We’ll start at Lent, then check out useful expressions through Easter Monday. 

Important days of Lent

Domenica delle Palme          Palm Sunday 

Giovedì Santo                         Holy Thursday 

Venerdì Santo                         Good Friday 

Sabato Santo                           Holy Saturday or Vigil of Easter 

Pasqua                                     Easter Sunday 

Pasquetta                                Easter Monday or Little Easter 

Pentecoste                              Pentecost 

Words associated with Easter  

La processione                             Procession 

La ceremonia                               Ceremony 

La Santa Messa                            Mass 

Falò                                                Bonfire 

La Passione                                   The Passion 

La croce                                         Cross 

Il Cenacolo or                               The Last Supper 

L’Ultima Cena 

Il discepolo                                    Disciple 

Ponzio Pilato                                 Pontius Pilate 

As always, food takes center stage in any Italian celebration and Easter is no exception. Here is vocabulary for some Easter foods. 

Il pane                               Bread 

L’agnello                           Lamb 

La cioccolata                    Chocolate 

L’uovo                               Egg  

Chocolate at this time of year is almost always in the shape of an egg followed by chocolate crosses. 

Breads made during Easter are beyond the imagination with almost every region boasting one or two specialties. 

The one bread that is common to the entire country is the traditional columba, a sweet bread shaped like a dove. 

The seasonal greeting is Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter).  

Here in the United States there are certain Easter words and traditions that Italians maintain and others that either never took hold here or have fallen by the wayside because of assimilation. Much of what is retained in the United States has a food connection to a particular region and the associated vocabulary is in dialect. Let’s look at two of these food items that you may have heard and explain their significance. 

The first is the Sicilian cuddura cu l’ova. Once you leave Sicily, it is almost impossible to find a bakery on the Italian mainland that bakes this Sicilian Easter favorite. Here in the United States the tradition of the cuddura cu l’uva transcends the Sicilian Americans and is popular among the Italian Americans-at-large. In fact, it is easier to find the cuddura here than on the Italian mainland. What exactly does this Sicilian word mean and what would be the Italian equivalent?  The translation from Sicilian to English is best put like this, “braided with eggs” which leaves us now with the proper Italian to be defined. Given this is not an item that crosses the Straits of Messina very often, there is no other way to refer to this short of a literal translation to Italian which would look something like this, Treccia con le ova, which  if said to an Italian might elicit a strange look from him/her

Another popular food, la pastiera from Naples, is also popular in the United States not only among Neapolitan Americans, but again has garnished popularity among many Italian Americans.  However, a search through an Italian dictionary reveals no such word as pastiera in Italian. It can best be described as an Easter sweet grain pie.  

This month’s proverb is of Corsican origins: 

This month’s proverb

Corso: A quandu Pasqua, à quandu tasca.  

Italiano equivalent: A volte è festa, a volte è miseria. 

English literal: At times it’s Easter, at times it’s pockets. Figuratively it is meant to imply “At times it’s festive, at times it’s misery, as in having empty pockets.  

This month’s falso amico

It is deluso. It doesn’t means “deluded,” but in fact it means “disappointed.”. The verb deludere is “to disappoint,” “to betray”or “to let down.”  The verb “to delude” on the other hand is illudere. They all have roots in the Latin ludere meaning “to play.” So, the English “to delude” is from the Latin deludere, “to play false,” but the meanings have evolved in slightly different directions over the centuries. 

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