Even if it’s already been freezing cold for a while here, we can now officially say that it is winter! Winter has arrived today in all its glory and it’s time to celebrate.
If you have been following me for some time now, you know that I am more of a fan of summer, but I like the changing of the seasons and I am ready to embrace what is coming.
In the past, when I was younger, I was not used to paying attention to nature and what happens to it as the wheel of the year makes its turn. Since I got a dog and started spending a lot of time outside, I started noticing all the small and big changes that take place in nature during the year and I am very curious about it.
This is why for me every season is welcome. Every new season brings change and new beginnings and a lot of interesting things to notice. So I am welcoming winter as well – I just keep my fingers crossed for a little less snow and cold in the coming months, we already had enough for my taste.
So yes, let’s celebrate the new season!
How shall we do it? With a new blog post belonging to the Italian Vocabulary series focused on the Italian words and phrases for winter, of course! As I did for all the other seasons, it will be a way to write about winter in Italy and to learn some new vocabulary at the same time.
Moreover, it will also include a downloadable pdf file for you to keep and print out for future reference. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
Shall we dive into winter, now?
L’inverno (winter) arrives every year on December 21st, which we know as il giorno del solstizio d’inverno (the day of the winter solstice). This falls at the beginning of a very special time, le feste (the winter holidays), during which people get together to celebrate.
The most important holiday is Natale (Christmas), which actually begins on la vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve), when people vanno alla messa di mezzanotte (go to Midnight Mass). Here in Italy, we have two days of Christmas: Natale and Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen’s Day), so we get two full days of parties and celebrations.
Usually, people passano il Natale in famiglia (spend Christmas with the family), mangiando cose buone (eating good food), chiacchierando (chatting), giocando a tombola (playing tombola) and stando insieme (being together). Santo Stefano is a more relaxed day, so many people spend it on their own, rilassandosi (relaxing) or maybe andando al cinema (going to the movies).
But the holidays are not over. Soon after comes Capodanno or San Silvestro (New Year’s Eve), which is just the perfect time to party and have fun. There are many ways to spend Capodanno: you can stare a casa con gli amici (to stay at home with friends), andare a una festa (to go to a party), fare un cenone (to go to the restaurant for a big dinner), festeggiare in piazza (to celebrate in the square), or andare a un concerto (to go to a concert).
No matter how you celebrate, the most important thing is to brindare a mezzanotte (to toast at midnight) and mangiare una fetta di panettone (to eat a slice of panettone), wishing everybody “Buon Anno Nuovo” (Happy New Year).
Another way of celebrating New Year’s Eve is andare a dormire presto (to go to bed early) and make the most of il primo dell’anno (January 1st), spending it sulle piste (on the slopes), al mare (at the beach) or with una gita (a day trip).
The winter holidays in Italy end with il giorno dell’Epifania (the day of the Epiphany), which falls on January 6th. Such day celebrates l’arrivo dei magi a Betlemme (the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem), but is also also known for something else: la Befana, the old lady who flies on her broom and brings regali (presents) to all the good kids and carbone (coal) to those who behaved bad. (If you want to know more about this peculiar Italian tradition, you can read this old post of mine).
Something else happens on January 6th as well: it’s the day of the estrazione della Lotteria Italia (the draw of the Italian lottery), which usually gives many premi (prizes) and soldi (money).
The day after il giorno della Befana (the day of the Befana) everything goes back to normal: i bambini tornano a scuola (the kids go back to school) and everyday life begins again. But there is something to look forward to: Carnevale (Carnival), which usually falls in February, will soon arrive and it will be time for parties again.
During winter, it is very common to go on settimana bianca (white week), which is the term we use to define a week spent in the mountains to go skiing. During la settimana bianca, si va a sciare (to go skating), a pattinare sul ghiaccio (to ice skate), si fa snowboard (to snowboard) and have fun in the snow. Settimana bianca is also a time to eat a lot of comfort food and maybe rilassarsi alla spa (to relax in a spa).
In the north of Italy, winter is usually molto freddo (very cold), there is neve (snow), ghiaccio (ice) and, in some areas, there’s a lot of nebbia (fog). In the south of Italy, instead, the weather is mite (mild) and sometimes it is even caldo (warm). If you are lucky, in places like Sicily for example, you can even andare alla spiaggia (to go to the beach) in winter.
Since it is quite cold in winter, you have to dress accordingly: you must wear un cappotto (a coat) or un piumino (a duvet coat), sciarpa (scarf), cappello (hat) and guanti (gloves). In terms of shoes, if it rains you have to use stivali da pioggia (rain boots) or scarponi (heavy boots), in case of snow. In order to keep warm, it is always nice to drink loads of cioccolata calda (hot chocolate).
Now tell me: How’s winter in your corner of the world? Do you like it?
I hope you’ll find this post useful for your Italian vocabulary building purposes. If you like this kind of vocabulary posts, here below you’ll find the other ones.
If you have specific requests regarding topics and themes, just leave a comment here below or send me an email at cinzia@instantlyitaly.
I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned in this post. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
If you are interested in improving your Italian language skills, I’d suggest you check Chiacchieriamo, your way of chatting with an Italian without moving from home.
Chiacchieriamo is a Skype chat which helps you practice and improve your Italian with a native speaker. If you want to give it a try, you can request a 30-minute free chat, so that we can meet each other and see if you like the service.