As part of an ongoing series of posts, Riccardo Cristiani, the head Italian teacher at Dante Learning, introduces Italian expressions about parties and partying.
This particular period of the year is full of emotions (emozioni), expectations (aspettative), events (eventi) and reunions (incontri) with your closest friends and relatives, people you do or sometimes don’t want to see. Presents (regali), greetings (saluti) and resolutions (propositi) are other Italian keywords, but this post focuses on Italian idioms and proverbs related to le feste (festivities).
I have picked a few common idioms and proverbs, and I’ll write some examples only in Italian. If you have questions, write them in the comments. Siete pronti?
Modi di dire -- Idioms
• Fare la festa a qualcuno. Sounds nice, right? Wrong. It actually means “to punish” or “to ambush” someone.
Fabio voleva una promozione ma gli hanno fatto la festa, lo hanno licenziato.
• Imbucarsi a una festa. The verb imbucarsi is a figure of speech, a very effective one, and means “to crash a party,” literally “through a hole.” Gli imbucati are “the crashers.”
Non sappiamo cosa fare a Capodanno. Forse ci imbucheremo in qualche festa.
• Rovinare la festa. Literally “to spoil the party,” giving bad news when everyone is celebrating or relaxing -- similar to fare il guastafeste or to be a buzzkill.
Non vorrei rovinare la festa, ma dobbiamo finire questo lavoro prima delle vacanze. (And everyone responds, “Che guastafeste!” -- “What a buzzkill!”)
• Non è mica sempre festa (also domenica, Natale or Pasqua). It’s not always a party, Sunday, Christmas or Easter. Life is hard, sometimes you don’t win. Non + mica means “not + at all.”
Ho chiesto a mio padre se mi presta la macchina, e mi ha detto “non è mica sempre domenica.”
• Finita la festa, buonanotte ai suonatori. Literally, the party's over; good night to the players in the band. “Buonanotte ai suonatori” alone can mean “there’s no hope"; we’re done.
• Finita la festa, gabbato lo santo. When the celebration is over, we forget about the saint (or Christmas) and abandon (gabbare) our good intentions.
• Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi. Christmas with your family, Easter with whom you want.
• Da Natale a Santo Stefano. Santo Stefano is the 26th of December. This describes something that lasts only one day.
• Chi mangia lenticchie a Capodanno, conta soldi tutto l’anno. If you eat lentils on New Year’s Day, you will make money all year long. I know for sure that this last proverb is scientifically wrong. With all the lentils I have eaten in my life, I should be a billionaire--but I am not. Give it a try anyway!
Let me take this chance to wish you a great 2017 and to say grazie a Dianne for hosting my blogs on La Bella Lingua. I also hope you will keep studying Italian with passion. If you want to check your level, try the following quizzes and webcast. If you want, you can try a Skype class with me for free.
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!
Dante-Learning is an online Italian language school based in Milan and Tokyo, with students from many countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Japan.
Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discovered and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.