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Italian Lesson – March 2024

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On the 31st of this month, Christians around the world will celebrate Easter. Therefore, it’s time to review a few practical expressions that you may have forgotten or might like to learn that are relative to this celebration. The week in which Easter is celebrated is known in Italian as il Periodo Pasquale. 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. 

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

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.

Almost every region boasts one or two bread specialties. The one bread that is common to the entire country is the traditional columba, a sweet bread shaped like a dove.

Here in the United States, there are certain Easter words and traditions that Italians maintain. Much of what is retained in the United States has a food connection to a particular region. Let’s look at two of these food items.

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. It is easier to find the cuddura in the United States than on the Italian mainland. The translation from Sicilian to English is best put like “braided with eggs,” which leaves us with the proper Italian to be defined. Given this is not an item that crosses the Straits of Messina very often, there is no way to refer to this short of a literal translation to Italian, which would look something like treccia con le ova. 

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

This month’s proverb

It is not French in origin, but actually an offshoot of Tuscan.:

Corso: Duve si ha de beie un ci si sputa.

Italiano: Non si sputa nel piatto dove si mangia. (Italian equivalent saying)

English (literal translation): Don’t spit where you need to eat. Figuratively in English it refers to someone who causes trouble in their immediate surroundings.

This month’s falso amico

It is carta. It doesn’t mean “cart” in Italian. It means paper. The word for cart in Italian is carretto , and a shopping cart is carrello. 

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