Italian Word of the Day: Dicembre (December)

December, or dicembre in Italian, is the month in which winter (inverno) officially begins in the northern hemisphere. The days may be short and the weather variable, but it is certainly the most magical time to visit Italy thanks to the festive atmosphere.

/di·cèm·bre/
Italian word for December, Dicembre

Some things that characterise Italy in December include elaborate nativity scenes (presepi) dotting Italy’s largest cities, lavish Christmas markets (mercatini di Natale), and bagpipers playing Christmas music, especially in the south of Italy.

Sei mai stato in Italia a dicembre?

Have you ever been to Italy in December?


In addition to the various Christmas and New Years festivities that take place between the 24th and 31st, there are two other important dates in December that Italians celebrate:

  • December 8th: The feast of the Immaculate Conception, known as Immacolata Concezione in Italian. It celebrates the Catholic belief that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. This is also the day on which Italians traditionally put up their Christmas tree (albero di Natale).
  • December 13th: The feast of St. Lucia, known as la Festa di Santa Lucia in Italian. In northern Italy, Santa Lucia is said to visit homes on the eve of December 13, riding her donkey, to give presents to obedient children. In southern Italy, she is honoured with more traditional religious parades and feasts. Find out more about this festival here.
Beautiful lovers posing together at snowy backyard, drinking hot tea, looking at each other and smiling.

Dicembre is the twelfth month (dodicesimo mese) of the year according to the Julian and Gregorian calendars and it consists of 31 days (trent’un giorni). As is the case with all months of the year, dicembre isn’t capitalised in Italian as it is in English.

It derives from the Latin decem meaning dieci (ten) because originally it was the tenth month of the Roman year.

The star sign (segno zodiacale) for those born in Dicembre is either Sagittario (Sagittarius) if you were born between December 1st and December 21st, or Capricorno (Capricorn) if you were born after the 21st.


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