Type to search

Italian Lesson – November 2023


Whether your family chooses to keep the family gatherings small or large, this lesson will teach how to add an Italian flair to your Thanksgiving.

While this lesson is not Italian in theme, it begins by reflecting on the Italians’ curiosity about this American holiday and its related traditions. Thanksgiving, unlike Halloween, has no historical or cultural significance in Italy. It is unlikely that Italians will ever assimilate this holiday into their culture. Note that this is not the case for Halloween, at one time known only as La Vigilia di Ognisanto, or the Eve of All Saints’ Day, which is now becoming trendy in Italy.

However, if one visits family or friends in Italy at this time of year, they may ask questions about this very American holiday. Italians aware of the holiday refer to it as Il Giorno di Ringraziamento, La Festa di Ringraziamento, or jokingly La Festa del Tacchino, which means the turkeys’ feast day. We offer the following expressions and translations to practice using during your Thanksgiving celebration. It’s a wonderful way to add to your vocabulary as Italian Americans feast on lasagna, escarole soup, and if there is room left, turkey.

These terms will also help to satisfy a native Italian’s curiosity if you happen to be in Italy at this time of year and are asked to explain this traditional American holiday. Of course, as with all Italian subjects, we will cover the foods associated with this fall feast. We hope you 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:




Indiano o Pellerossa
Native American


Prosciutto cotto*

Patata americana**
Sweet potato

Purè di patate
Mashed potatoes




(Gelatina di) Mirtilli rossi***
Cranberries (sauce)

Crostata di zucca
Pumpkin pie



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 departed,

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 feasted 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

This month’s falso amico is sentenza which in Italian doesn’t mean sentence in the grammatical sense. It does mean a sentence in legal matters. The Italian word for sentence in the grammatical sense is frase.

This month’s proverb

It is from Sardinia.

Sardu: Abba passada no tira su mulinu. 

Italiano: Acqua passata non tira il mulino.

English: (Literally: Water passed the mill, can’t pull the mill wheel.)

English equivalent: (Don’t cry over spilled milk.)

Stay up-to-date with our free email newsletter

Keep a pulse on local food, art, and entertainment content when you join our Italian-American Herald Newsletter.