Italian Word of the Day: Babbo Natale (Santa Claus)

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!

Christmas is only two days away, so it’s high time we mentioned the big man himself: Santa Claus, otherwise known as Babbo Natale in Italian!

IPA: /ˈ na.ˈta.le/

The word babbo (masculine, plural: babbi) is another term for father and is popular in certain regions of Italy such as Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Marche and Sardegna. The closest translation in English would be daddy or pops.

Come fa Babbo Natale ad entrare in casa?

How does Santa Claus get inside the house?

The modern-day Babbo Natale grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, a 4th century bishop who was known for his generosity. He is portrayed as a portly, white-bearded man wearing a fur-lined red coat, red hat, black boots and a leather belt. Carrying toys in his large sack, he is said to bring presents to the homes of good children on Christmas Eve.

Every year on December 1st, the city of Torino holds an event called Il Raduno dei Babbi Natale (The Reunion of Santa Clauses) in support of the Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital. Hundreds of people, including marathon runners, musicians and motorcyclists, dress up in Santa costumes to raise money for important projects at the hospital. The day we took part was cold and rainy but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Babbi as you can see below!

crowd dressed as santa clause in front of the Regina Margherita hospital in Turin, Italy
man dressed as santa clause on his harley davidson motorcycle, wearing black goggles and a black helmet
various motorcyclists dressed as santa clause

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