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Italian Lesson – November 2021


Though this year may considered a safer time to gather than last year, many families may choose to keep the family gatherings small, maybe even only with the immediate family members. No matter how your family plans to celebrate the day, this lesson will teach how to add an Italian flair to the day.

The lesson begins by reflecting on the Italian curiosity about this American holiday and its related traditions. Thanksgiving, unlike, Halloween has no historical or cultural significance in Italy. It is unlikely that it will ever be assimilated into Italian culture as has Halloween, which in Italian was at one time known only as “La Vigilia di Ognisanto,” The Eve of All Saint’s Day.” However, if one visits family or friends in Italy at this time of year, they are often bombarded with questions about this very American holiday, which in Italian is known as Il Giorno di Ringraziamento, La Festa di Ringraziamento, or jokingly “La Festa del Tacchino, which mean The Turkeys’ Feast Day. However, in translation, that reference of “Turkey’s Feast Day” seems like an oxymoron. Now, back to the point of the lesson. Here in America to Italianize the Thanksgiving celebration around the table Italian-Americans feast on Lasagna, Italian escarole soup, and if there is room left, turkey.

In order to satisfy a native Italian’s curiosity and for those wishing to enrich their Italian language skills, we’ve prepared a list of words and expressions that will help you explain a little about the history of the holiday. Of course as with all Italian subjects, we will cover the foods associated with this fall feast. Then, if you might happen be in Italy during this holiday period, you can explain the traditional foods to Italians. Finally, if you have never Italianize your Thanksgiving with seasonal Italian greetings here at home, then try using some of this lesson’s greetings to start a new “Giorno di Ringraziamento” tradition at your table this year.

Let’s begin with some holiday greetings:

Buona Festa (with this one you can never go wrong) Happy Holiday
Felice Giorno di Ringraziamento Happy Thanksgiving
Felice Giorno del Tacchino Happy Turkey Day

Other topical terms:

Inghilterra England
Pellegrino Pilgrim
Nave Ship
Indiano o Pellerossa Tacchino Native American
Prosciutto cotto Ham
Patata americana Sweet potato
Purè di patate Mashed potato
Piselli Peas
Mais Corn
Farcito Stuffing
(Gelatina di) Mirtilli rossi Cranberries (sauce)
Crostata di zucca Pumpkin pie
Sidro Cider

Though not a holiday in Italy, we found a poem dedicated to the day. (Rough Translation)

La Festa del Tacchino Turkey Day
Dall’Inghilterra son andati, From England they had hone,
I pelligrini perseguitati Pilgrims persecuted far too long,
A “Plymouth Rock” son arrivati, They arrived at Plymouth Rock,
Amici Indiani han trovati. New Indian friends they did find.
Il benvenuto era con tutto il cuore, They were welcomed with open hearts,
Gli indiani li han aiutati con fervore, They toiled together to raise a crop
Dopo d’una raccolta strepitosa, Their harvest was a big success.
Han fatto una festa meravigliosa. They feast on food that was the best.
In questo giorno come Americani, On this day as Americans,
Ricordiamo i pellegrini e gl’indiani, We remember these two best friends,
E` “La Festa del Tacchino,” It is our “Turkey Day,”
Brindiamola col buon vino. Let’s toast it with fine wine.

Buona Festa a tutti.

This month’s falso amico
It is “parente,” which in Italian does not mean parent. It means relative. Parent in Italian is genitore.

This month’s proverb
It is from Friuli-Venezia Giulia’
Friulano: Ti va ben a ti.
Italiano: Ti va bene a te.

English: This is OK with

In reality, this means basically nothing. Literal translation: life is treating you well, things are going well for you, etc.

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