Italian Word of the Day: Mangiatoia (manger)

Today’s word of the day is part of our Italian Christmas Word Advent Calendar series. Each day throughout December, we’ll post a word that is related to the holiday season. Enjoy!

The word for manger in Italian is mangiatoia (feminine, plural: mangiatoie). It is made up of two parts: mangiare (to eat) + the instrumental suffix -toia which forms nouns from verbs.

IPA: /man·gia·tó·ia/

According to the Bible, Jesus (Gesù) was laid in a mangiatoia after his birth which, depending on how you interpret the story’s translation, was located either in a stable (stalla) or on the lower floor of a house serving as a nighttime shelter for animals. This is because there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the guest rooms at the local inn in Bethlehem.

Gesù è nato in una mangiatoia.

Jesus was born in a manger.

So, why would the Son of God appear on earth in the lowliest of circumstances? Well, it conveys the message that despite his destiny to become a great ruler, he is humble and accessible rather than privileged and aloof – in other words, he is one of us.

In its figurative form, mangiatoia can refer to a business that tries to make easy money, often in an illegal way.

Did you know that…?
Mangiatoia is also the word for feeder (as in a bird feeder) or trough.

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