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Italian Advent Calendar

Learn Italian every day from December 1 to 24 with stories and legends, Italian traditions around Christmas, vocabularysongs and recipes. Everything about Christmas in Italy!

Our Italian Advent Calendar consists of three parts you can download: The Advent Book, the Exercise Booklet and the DIY Advent Calendar.

Wanna open the first door with us? Click on the number and watch the daily video! In the video we’ll go through the content of the Advent Book and the DIY Advent Calendar together. In addition you’ll find an audio file, the translation and extra content for each day.

Italian Advent Calendar

Let's open the door !

Click on the number of the calendar and watch the daily video! In the video we go through the contents of the DIY Advent Calendar first and then of the Advent Book. You can listen to the correct pronunciation and practice your listening comprehension. Do not forget to do the exercises in the exercise booklet afterwards!

You will also find an audio file, a translation to learn new words, and extra content such as links to related stories, songs or recipes.

We remind you that you can easily listen to the audio files also on podcast channels like SpotifyAnchor or Apple Podcast. You’ll find the videos  on YouTube, too. 

 

1 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

1. The Advent wreath

Every Advent Sunday you light one of the four candles of the Advent wreath. The candles symbolize Jesus, the light of the world, who is coming.

The legend of the four candles

The four candles burn slowly.
The first one says: «I am peace, but people do not want me. They prefer weapons and war.» And then it goes out.

The second one says: «I am faith, but people are not interested in me. They do not need me!» As soon as it finishes talking, the candle goes out.

Very sad the third candle says: «I am love, but people do not understand my importance. Often they prefer to hate!» And the third candle also goes out.

At this moment a child enters the room and sees the three extinguished candles. «What are you doing! You have to remain lit, I’m afraid of the dark!» And it starts to cry.

So the fourth candle says: «Don’t cry! As long as I am lit, we can always light the other three candles again: I am hope.»

With red, watery eyes, the child takes the candle of hope and lights all the others.

2 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

2. The fir

Real or not real? That is the question!*
According to recent studies, most Italian families use fake fir trees to make the Christmas tree. Do you use a real or a fake fir?

*This refers to the famous sentence of Hamlet, which in Italian is: Essere o non essere? Questo è il dilemma.

Vocabulary
il tronco (pl. i tronchi) trunk
il ramo (pl. i rami) branch
l’ago (pl. gli aghi) needle

Real or fake?

Italian families are divided: Some prefer the real fir, others the fake one, made of plastic. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of the real and the fake fir?

The real fir smells good, but it does not last long inside the house. Italians like to have the Christmas tree in the house all December until early January.

The fake tree is very practical because it does not lose any needles and you do not need to clean. The real fir is more ecological than the plastic fir, but many people do not like the idea of cutting down a tree just for a few days.

 

3 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

3. The Christmas ball 
Christmas balls are used for decorating the Christmas tree. Do you prefer the balls with the traditional colors, red and gold, or with a more Nordic style, white and blue?

Colors and pattern of the balls
rosso red  
bianco white
verde green
azzurro (light) blue
argento silver (aggettivo: argentato)
oro gold (aggettivo: dorato)
a righe striped
a pois polka dots
natalizia Christmassy

4 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

4. the Christmas tree

The Christmas tree is one of the main symbols of Christmas. It’s usually decorated with colored balls, garlands and lights. Decorating the tree is a nice way to spend some time with your loved ones.

Decorating the Christmas tree
il puntale the tree topper
la ghirlanda the garland
le palline the balls
le luci the lights

The biggest Christmas tree in the world
In Gubbio, in Umbria, is the biggest Christmas tree in the world. It is 750 meters high, like a mountain! It consists of 950 lights, powered by renewable energy sources, placed on the Mount Ingino. It was first made in 1981. In 1991 it won the Guinness World Records.

Look at the website of the Christmas tree of Gubbio here.

5 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

5. The crib, nativity scene

In the crib can not miss Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, the ox and the donkey. In Italy it is customary to go to the churches of the various countries to admire the beautiful cribs.

Vocabulary
l’angelo the angel
la stalla the stable
Giuseppe Joseph
Maria Maria
il bue the ox
l’asinello the (little) donkey
Gesù Bambino Baby Jesus
la mangiatoia the manger

In Italy cribs are not only a tradition, but they are a real art! The cribs can be large or small, traditional or modern, simple or very creative.
They can represent only the nativity, or even the whole outside world, with houses, taverns and many other characters.
Cribs can be found in houses, churches, squares and streets.
Famous and beautiful are the Neapolitan cribs. In Naples there is even the street of cribs, the famous Via San Gregorio Armeno, where you can admire wonderful handmade cribs.

6 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

6. St. Nicholas

In Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia St. Nicholas walks through the streets of the city and brings gifts to good children. But with him there are also the Krampus, evil demons who take away the bad children…

St. Nicholas is the protector of children. According to the legend, he brought back to life three children who had been kidnapped and killed. It was St. Nicholas who gave birth to the figure of Santa Claus!

In Bari

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of the city of Bari. For this reason on December 6 in Bari there are great celebrations, with processions for the saint, the lighting of the Christmas tree and fireworks.

St. Nicholas and the Krampus

The tradition of St. Nicholas bringing gifts on December 6 is widespread only in some areas of Italy, particularly in Friuli and South Tyrol. St. Nicholas walks through the streets of the city and enters the houses to bring gifts to the children. But St. Nicholas is accompanied by the Krampus, evil creatures that put children who do not behave well in their sack and take them away …

 

7 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

7. The bell
Ding dong ding dong
Do you hear them, the bells? Up there, on the church tower, they are ringing. They are ringing to remind us that it is a feast and to call the faithful to Holy Mass.

The bell* of Capri
Capri is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The famous bell of Capri, or bell of St. Michael, is a lucky charm that is given to special people. It is a great Christmas gift! But why does it bring good luck? Here is the legend:

On the island of Capri lived a very poor shepherd boy, without a father, who owned nothing except a sheep. One evening, while the sun was setting, the shepherd boy picked some flowers, but when he turned around, his sheep had disappeared.
Desperate, he called his sheep and after a while he heard the sound of a bell. The shepherd boy ran towards that sound, but he didn’t realize he was going towards a ravine…
Fortunately, a light suddenly appeared and the child stopped. Saint Michael appeared from the light on a white horse.
«My child» said the Saint, «take this bell and always follow its sound, because it will save you from all dangers and fulfill your every wish.»
The child thanked the Saint for the gift and then found his sheep. He returned home and decided to give the bell to his mother. Since that day he and his mother have had a happy life.

______

*la campanella is a small campana, a small bell. Don’t confuse it with il campanello, the doorbell!

8 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

8. The Immaculate

December 8th is the day of the Immaculate Conception, a festive day. On this day it is tradition to make the Christmas tree, the crib and, in general, decorate the house for Christmas.

December 8th in Rome
December 8th is a public holiday. It celebrates Mary, who was born without sin, therefore immaculate. In Rome there is a beautiful tradition: the column of the Immaculate in Piazza Mignanelli, next to Piazza di Spagna, receives many beautiful flowers!
The first to give the flowers to the Our Lady are the firemen. With a stair car they reach the statue, which is on top of a column more than 11 meters high, and place a garland of flowers on her arm. After the firemen, the Pope also pays homage to the statue of the Virgin Mary.

Discover the typical Italian recipe of the Zeppole dell'Immacolata

9 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

9. The cookies

Christmas time is the best time to bake Christmas cookies together with the whole family. With butter, almonds, gingerbread, spicy or colorful… but always delicious!

The ingredients for gingerbread cookies:

la farina 00 pastry flou
il burro butter
le uova (sg. l’uovo) egg
il miele honey
lo zucchero sugar
lo zucchero a velo powdered sugar
il sale salt
il bicarbonato baking soda
la noce moscata nutmeg
lo zenzero in polvere ginger powder
la cannella in polvere cinnamon powder
i chiodi di garofano macinati ground cloves

Watch the video of the recipe of the gingerbread cookies in Italian

10 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

10. Santa Claus

Santa Claus is an old man with a beautiful white beard, white hair and a big belly. He wears red and white clothes and lives at the North Pole with his helpers, elves and sprites.

Vocabulary
il cappello hat
le sopracciglia (pl.) eyebrows
i capelli (pl.) hair
i baffi (pl.) mustache
la barba beard
la giacca jacket
la cintura belt
i guanti (pl.) gloves
i pantaloni (pl.) pants
gli stivali (pl.) boots

Santa’s identity card
Name: Santa Claus
Address: Santa Claus Village, North Pole
Hair: White
Eyes: Blue
Years: Many
Height: 1.90 m
Distinguishing marks: The laughter oh oh oh!
Profession: Toy manufacturer and distributor
Hobby: Making snowball battles with the elves

11 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

11. The (small) letter

All the children write their letters to Santa Claus. What do they write in the letter? Everything they want for Christmas! Have you written your letter to Santa yet?

Dear Santa Claus,
every day I help my mother clean the house and tidy up. Sometimes I am naughty, but I promise to be more obedient. For Christmas, I ask you to make all the poor children happy and bring them lots of food and me the fairy Bloom with the makeup.
Thank you.
Delia

Written by a girl from an elementary school

Would you like to read more letters from Italian children? Take a look here

 

12 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

12. The reindeer

Reindeer live in very cold places. They have warm fur, antlers and large hooves. Reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh. Rudolph, the most famous reindeer, has a bright red nose.

Vocabulary
le corna (pl.) antlers
la coda tail
la pancia belly
le gambe* (pl.) legs
le orecchie (pl.) ears
il muso muzzle
il collo neck
gli zoccoli (pl.) hooves

Santa’s reindeer
In a country far away, in the cold North, where the snow is whiter and the nights are longer, there is a small village of reindeer. Some of these reindeer help Santa bring presents to all the children. Here also lives little Rudolph, who is a very special reindeer: all reindeer have brown noses, but Rudolph has a bright red nose! His bright nose can be very useful, for example, if on Christmas night there is a very thick fog…

________

*In Italian you distinguish between le gambe of humans and le zampe of animals. The word la zampa indicates both the whole leg of an animal, from the shoulder to the ground, or only the paw (e.g. of a cat). You may also refer to animal legs as le gambe, particularly in case of horses and similar animals.

Read & watch la storia di Rudolph!

13 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

13. The sleigh

What is Santa’s means of transportation? The sleigh, of course! The sleigh is magical and can fly. Santa flies around the world on his flying sleigh, bringing presents to all the children.

Winter sports and activities
sciare to ski
fare snowboard (anche: andare sullo snowboard) to snowboard
pattinare to ice skate
andare sullo slittino to go sledding
giocare a hockey su ghiaccio to play ice hockey
fare una battaglia di palle di neve to have a snowball fight

14 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

14. The Panettone

Panettone is the typical Christmas dessert. Originated in Milan, today it is widespread throughout Italy. It is a soft dessert that contains candied fruit and raisins. A tip: eat it with some mascarpone cream. Mmh delicious!

Vocabulary
la frutta candita (anche: i canditi) candied fruit
l’uva passa (anche: l’uvetta) raisins

The legend of the Panettone
It is Christmas night in 1495 and a tragedy happens at the court of Ludovico il Moro in Milan: the cook forgets the Christmas dessert in the oven! The cake is completely burnt and there are no ingredients to make a new one…. What can he do?
His assistant, the kitchen boy Toni, looks in the kitchen cupboard: there are only flour, eggs, butter, sugar and a few raisins left. So he takes all the ingredients, forms a nice dough and then puts it in the oven. All the guests are really excited about the new dessert!
And so the Pan del Toni was born, which then became the Panettone.

15 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

15. The Pandoro

Another typical Christmas dessert is Pandoro, from Verona. It is similar to panettone, but it does not have raisins or candied fruit, it is star shaped and children like it more. Which do you prefer, panettone or pandoro?

A forma di stella star shaped
Senza uva passa e frutta candita Without raisins and candied fruit

Panettone and pandoro are very similar sweets, but which one is the best? It’s a real challenge. Every year at Christmas, Italy is divided in two: team panettone and team pandoro!

In addition to the traditional versions, you can also find panettone and pandoro with different flavors, for example chocolate or pistachio. Or you can fill your Christmas desserts with fruit, delicious creams and lots of imagination! 

16 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

16. The mistletoe

Mistletoe, with its beautiful white berries, is used to decorate doors during the Christmas season. It is a good luck charm: according to tradition, to give a kiss under the mistletoe brings good luck!

The legend of the mistletoe
Freya, the goddess of love, had two sons, Balder, good and generous, and Loki, bad and envious. Loki wanted to kill his brother and when Freya heard about it, she asked all the animals and plants to protect Balder. Unfortunately she forgot to ask the mistletoe plant, so Loki used this very plant to create the arrow with which he killed his brother.

The goddess Freya, seeing her dead son, began to cry desperately and her tears, as if by magic, turned into white berries. When they touched Balder’s body, he came back to life. Out of great happiness, the goddess Freya kissed all the people who passed under the mistletoe.

Thus was born the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas: it is a symbol of eternal love!

17 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

17. The holly

Holly is an evergreen plant with red berries. It has the colors of Christmas: green and red. This is why it is often used to decorate homes during the Christmas season.

The holly and the little bird
Winter is coming, the wind is cold and the trees have lost most of their leaves. In the woods, all the birds are leaving for warmer places. Only one little bird remains, too young and weak to make such a long journey.
December comes and it snows. The little bird is cold and hungry. His nest is not warm enough and he cannot find food. One day, while he is looking for something to eat, he comes to a little house. Around the little house there are many trees and plants. All of them are leafless except for one. This plant has green leaves and is full of red berries.
“Please,” says the little bird, “don’t lose your leaves and berries, or I will starve and freeze to death.”
The holly tree hears the little bird’s prayer and addresses the winter wind. The winter wind replies, “Don’t worry, I promise you’ll never lose your leaves and you can be a shelter for this little bird until spring.”
And so from that day forward, the holly never loses its green leaves and red berries and helps the little birds find food and shelter even in winter.

18 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

18. The Christmas markets

During Advent you can’t miss a nice trip to the Christmas markets. Here you can have a drink or something to eat and also buy handcrafted items for yourself or to give to your loved ones.

In Trentino-Alto Adige, the region bordering Austria, the Christmas markets are a real tradition and are considered the most beautiful in Italy! This is therefore the perfect time to visit this region.

Bolzano is the capital of Alto Adige and is the symbol of the Christmas markets in Italy. In this city, the official languages are Italian and German. The markets are located in Piazza Walther, which every year is transformed into a magical place made of wooden houses and lights and where you can breathe a pleasant scent of cinnamon. Here you can stroll among the wonderful stands and taste typical dishes such as fried apple rings and strudel and drink a good mulled wine. 

19 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

19. The mulled wine

The mulled wine is a hot drink made from hot wine, sugar and aromatic spices. You can enjoy it at Christmas markets or even at folk festivals during the winter season.

Vocabulary
l’arancia orange
le stecche di cannella cinnamon sticks
le bacche di ginepro juniper berries
l’anice stellato star anise
i chiodi di garofano cloves

Mulled wine recipe

  1. To prepare the mulled wine for 4 people, take a steel pot and put all the ingredients in it: 100 grams of sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 juniper berries, 8 cloves, a star anise, a pinch of nutmeg, the peel of a lemon and an orange and finally pour a liter of full-bodied red wine.
  2. Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil.
  3. Stir and boil on a gentle heat for 5 minutes. The sugar should dissolve completely.
  4. Bring a flame to the wine and light it, but be careful not to burn yourself! The flame should go out on its own.
  5. Filter your mulled wine through a fine mesh strainer and serve.

20 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

20. The Star of Bethlehem 
At Christmas, there is a star that can not miss in any crib: it is the Star of Bethlehem. According to tradition, this star guided the Magi to the stable where Baby Jesus was.

The story of the three Wise Men
One night three wise astrologers named Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior, see a new star in the sky, very big and bright. It is the Star of Bethlehem. They know what it means: a new king has been born.

So they set out to bring him rich gifts. But near Jerusalem they no longer see the star, so they ask King Herod for information. Herod doesn’t know anything about this new king and he doesn’t like the news at all, because he wants to be the only ruler. However, he tells the Magi, “Let me know when you find him, because I want to bring him gifts, too!”

The star reappears and the Magi arrive in Bethlehem, where the star illuminates a cave. Inside is Baby Jesus. The Magi immediately understand, despite the simple and poor place, that this child is the King of Kings. They give him gold, frankincense and myrrh, symbols of royalty, divinity and eternity.

That night the Magi dream of an angel who tells them not to go back to Herod on their return journey, because he does not want to worship the Child, but wants to eliminate him to be the only king. So the Magi return home by taking a different route.

 

21 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

21. The poinsettia

The poinsettia is a red star-shaped flower that is given as a gift at Christmas. If you visit someone during the Christmas season, give them a poinsettia!

The legend of the poinsettia
A poor little girl lived in a small town in Mexico. The little girl believed in God and loved Christmas. But on Christmas night she was very sad and cried, because her family had no money and she had nothing to give to Baby Jesus.
But suddenly an angel appeared and said to her, “Don’t cry, don’t be sad! Gather the plants you find by the side of the road and bring them to Jesus. Jesus is pleased with any gift, even the simplest.”
The little girl was a little confused: they were just weeds! But she had faith, so she gathered the plants and made a beautiful bouquet. Then she brought it to the church and placed it next to the crib. Immediately the weeds turned into big, beautiful red flowers. A miracle! all those present thought in wonder.

Since then, Mexicans call these plants the flowers of the Holy Night and all over the world they have become symbols of Christmas.

22 dicembre

Watch this video first!

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

22. The snowman

A big snowball for the body, a smaller one for the head, a carrot for the nose, two buttons for the eyes, and finally a scarf and hat: and voilà, the snowman is done!

An endless friendship

It’s winter and a little girl named Lily makes a beautiful snowman in her garden. She puts a pretty orange carrot for the nose, two buttons for eyes, and two twigs for arms. Magically, the snowman comes to life: it moves and starts playing with the little girl. In the evening, when the light from the house illuminates the garden and the wooden fence, the snowman creates shadows with his hands and tells captivating stories. Lily loves the snowman’s stories.
Then spring comes and the snowman begins to melt. But Lily has an idea: she goes to the garage and puts the snowman in the old refrigerator! So, year after year, in winter Lily pulls her friend out of the refrigerator and they play together. At night Lily sits in the backyard and watches the stories the snowman creates with the shadows of his hands.
Years go by, Lily becomes a woman and no longer has time to play with her friend. He is always in the refrigerator and waiting for her, but she has forgotten about him. But one night in the office, a lamp falls near her snow globe, and a shadow of a snowman appears on the wall. Suddenly Lily remembers her friend and runs home. She opens the door of the old refrigerator and he is still there: a little frozen, but overjoyed to see her again. They go to the garden and he tells a new story with the shadows of his hands, but this time someone else is with them: Lily’s daughter.

23 dicembre

Through this sweet ad the song has become popular

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

23. The fireplace 

Brrr, that’s cold! It’s time to light the fireplace with some wood and get cozy: a nice hot herbal tea, a soft blanket, a good book or a good movie are the ingredients for a perfect evening!

Vocabulary
la ghirlanda the garland, the wreath
la finestra the window
il camino the fireplace
il tappeto the carpet
la neve the snow
la calza the sock, stocking
il fuoco the fire
il gatto the cat

Christmas song ♪ A Natale puoi ♪ (At Christmas you can)

Lyrics:
At Christmas you can
do what you can never do

It’s Christmas and at Christmas you can do more
It’s Christmas and at Christmas you can love more
It’s Christmas and at Christmas you can do more

For us

At Christmas you can

Listen to beautiful Italian Christmas songs

24 dicembre

You can download the MP3 file here:

You can read the translation here:

24. The gift 

On Christmas Eve, before going to sleep, children leave a glass of milk and some cookies on the table or fireplace for Santa. On the morning of December 25, they find the presents under the tree. What joy!

Christmas Eve Dinner
Some families like to have Christmas Eve dinner, others prefer to have Christmas lunch [on 25/12]. The traditional menu of the dinner is based on fish. Here is an example of a menu: as an appetizer a shrimp cocktail, as a first course a plate of tagliatelle with salmon, as a second course cod with tomato sauce and finally pomegranate panna cotta for dessert. Enjoy your meal!

Santa Claus arrives at night 
While the children sleep, Santa Claus comes down the chimney and leaves the presents under the tree. For him and his reindeer, the children left cookies and a glass of milk. That’s why he has such a big belly – he’s always eating cookies! On the morning of December 25, the children wake up and open their presents. It is a unique excitement for the children!

Vocabulary
il videogioco video game
le costruzioni construction set
la macchinina toy car, small car
la bambola doll

Read more about typical Christmas menu

Hey you !

Have you followed us until today?

Fantastico!

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Let us know in the comments!

Grazie! 🥰

🎅 Buon Natale ! 🎅

italianobello buonnatale • Italian Advent Calendar

Material to download

cover libro • Italian Advent Calendar

italian traditions, vocabulary & stories

The Advent Book

A book with pretty illustrations where you can discover stories, legends, Italian traditions, vocabulary, recipes and songs related to the word of the day!

cover quaderno esercizi 1 • Italian Advent Calendar

to improve your italian day by day

The Exercise Booklet

A booklet with grammar, vocabulary and comprehension exercises related to content of the Advent book. 

calendario jenny • Italian Advent Calendar

For the more creative of you

The DIY Advent Calendar

An Advent calendar to print out and make it by yourself. Contains the word of the day (the same as in the book), a picture and a small sentence.

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