Italian Word of the Day: Capodanno (New Year’s Day)

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 first day of the new year is known as Capodanno in Italian. It is composed of two words: capo (meaning head or top) and anno (meaning year).

IPA: /kapoˈdanno/

The two words are linked by the preposition di (of) which becomes d’ in front of words that start with vowels like anno.

Hai deciso dove vuoi festeggiare Capodanno?

Have you decided where you want to celebrate the new year?


Even though Capodanno technically refers to January 1st, it can also be used in reference to the festive period of time between the last day of the old year and the first day of the new year. To specify that you are talking about New Year’s Eve, you can say la notte / vigilia di Capodanno.

Whereas in English we tend to shout Happy New Year! when the clock strikes midnight, Italians will either say Buon anno! (lit: Good year!) or Auguri! (lit: Wishes!)

Buon anno e tanti auguri a tutti voi!

Happy New Year and best wishes to all of you!


golden banner with the words "buon" and "anno" written in purple

Did you know that…?
Those who strictly follow the Julian calendar, the beginning of the year is celebrated on the day corresponding to January 14 on the Gregorian calendar.

Many Italians consider Capodanno an opportunity to make resolutions (buoni propositi) for the new year. These might include:

  • perdere peso = losing weight
  • smettere di fumare = quitting smoking
  • mettersi in forma = getting fit
  • risparmiare soldi = saving money
  • passare più tempo con la famiglia = spending more time with the family
  • imparare qualcosa di nuovo = learning something new

The Italian tradition also comprises a series of superstitious rituals such as that of wearing a new pair of red underwear (mutande rosse) or the near-obsolete custom of throwing old or unused objects out the window.

At the end of the capodanno scene in the comedy film Fantozzi, the protagonist of the same name encourages his neighbours to throw away their old stuff, but it doesn’t end well for him!


Italian New Year’s Idioms

Here are a few idioms about the New Year you might want to try using with your Italian friends!

Anno nevoso, anno fruttuoso

  • meaning : snowy year, fruitful year

Chi lavora a Capodanno, lavora tutto l’anno

  • meaning : he who works on New Year’s Eve works all the year ’round

Chi mangia l’uva il primo dell’anno, conta i soldi tutto l’anno

  • meaning : he who eats grapes on New Year’s Day, counts the money all year ’round

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