Learn ways to say Happy Halloween in Italian, and tricks to make sure Italians will actually understand you when you do. You’ll also find out why it’s rare to wish someone a Happy Halloween in Italy, what Italians do to celebrate Halloween, all about Italian Halloween costumes, and how to say trick or treat! in Italian (dolcetto o scherzetto!).
Table of Contents
HOW TO SAY HAPPY HALLOWEEN IN ITALIAN
Halloween isn’t originally an Italian holiday, so Italians call Halloween just that: Halloween, but they pronounce it differently. Italians don’t pronounce the letter h at the beginning of words. To say Happy Halloween like an Italian, leave off the h, and stress the first syllable instead of the last one.
Keep going for audio files so you can pronounce it just like an Italian. If you pronounce Halloween like you do in English, Italians will most probably not understand you.
Here are three ways to say Happy Halloween in Italian. Keep in mind that Italians rarely say Happy Halloween: read on to find out why.
Buon Halloween literally means good Halloween in Italian.
The pronunciation of Buon Halloween is: boo-OHN AH-loh-een
Listen to how to pronounce Buon Halloween here:
Felice Halloween is literally Happy Halloween.
The pronunciation of Felice Halloween is: feh-LEE-cheh AH-loh-een
Listen to how to pronounce Felice Halloween here:
Buona festa di Halloween means (have a) good Halloween holiday.
The pronunciation of Buona Festa di Halloween is: boo-OHN-ah FEH-stah dee AH-loh-een
Listen to how to pronounce Buona Festa di Halloween here:
DO ITALIANS CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN?
Before you wish someone a Happy Halloween, consider this.
Halloween is not deeply rooted in Italian culture, nor is it widely celebrated. Halloween is an imported holiday which has only started to catch on in the last 5- 10 years in some parts of Italy. Many Italians even regard Halloween with skepticism and suspicion, while others have embraced it with enthusiasm.
Italians who do celebrate Halloween generally don’t wish each other a Happy Halloween because it’s just not a custom. There’s not anything wrong or rude about wishing an Italian person Happy Halloween, but it might confuse them because the holiday just isn’t on their radar. Italians are more likely to say Buon Halloween or Felice Halloween almost as a lark, or tongue in cheek, as if they’re trying on something new.
HOW DO ITALIANS CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN?
October 31st, or 31 ottobre is Halloween in Italy. In our small Tuscan town, some local shops like the bakery decorate their windows with cobwebs and Halloween decorations. The supermarket has a small Halloween section that pops up a week or so before Halloween, and in the last few years it’s even been possible to buy a small pumpkin there.
In school, Italian school children sometimes learn English Halloween-related vocabulary words during their English lesson. But Halloween is not celebrated at school, and children do not wear costumes to school. Halloween is not part of Italian culture at large.
ITALIAN HALLOWEEN COSTUMES
Italians have really grabbed onto the ghoulish, creepy side of Halloween. So when children wear costumes in the evening, they wear the spooky ones like vampires, zombies, mummies, ghosts, ghouls, devils, witches and cats. Fun costumes, like princesses and cartoon characters are reserved for Carnevale, which is the Italian costume holiday.
When my sons were little, our family of four dressed up as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Halloween. Italians didn’t know what to make of us. One perplexed person asked me “What does that have to do with Halloween?” Halloween in Italy is about being scary and spooky, and Carnevale is for playful and whimsical costumes.
To ask someone in Italian what they’re wearing for Halloween, use the reflexive verb travestirsi, which means to disguise oneself, to wear a costume, or dress up as.
A: Alessio come ti travesti a Halloween? Alessio, what are you dressing up as for Halloween?
B: Una mummia succhiasangue! E tu? A bloodsucking mummy! And you?
A: Io mi travesto da Dracula! I’m dressing up as Dracula!
Here are some words for Italian Halloween costumes:
|black cat||gatto nero|
TRICK-OR-TREATING IN ITALY
Sometimes Halloween-themed parties are held for children at local town community centers. And of course, there is trick-or-treating, which is called dolcetto o scherzetto in Italian. Italian children usually go trick-or-treating in the shops of the local town center because the odds of getting candy are higher there. The shopkeepers who participate in the holiday sometimes wear costumes as well, and hand out candy or sweets.
To say trick-or-treat, say: dolcetto o scherzetto!:
In our small town, there is a housing development that has embraced Halloween. Most of the condominiums are decorated with all kinds of pumpkins and cobwebs, and they are ready with plenty of candy to give out to the trick-or-treaters. Everyone is so enthusiastic and there are so many children out, it almost feels like the US suburbs!
In Italy, most houses hand out normal individually-wrapped candies. There are some Halloween themed candies, like lollipops with spooky wrappers, but there isn’t “Halloween candy” per se, like there is in the US.
One great thing about trick-or-treating in Italy is that you don’t have to worry about getting up early the next day. November 1st is a public holiday, and a day off from school and work.
To ask someone in Italian how much candy they got on Halloween, use the word caramelle, or candies in Italian.
A: Sei andata a fare dolcetto e scherzetto? Did you go trick-or-treating?
B: Sì, siamo andati ai negozi in centro. Yes, we went to the shops in the center of town.
A: Quante caramelle hai preso? How much candy did you get?
B: Un botto! A ton!
WHAT IS THE HOLIDAY AFTER HALLOWEEN IN ITALY?
Halloween is followed by two days of religious Catholic holidays. November 1st is All Saint’s Day, or La Festa di Ognissanti, in Italy. It is also called Tutti i Santi, and it is an important religious holiday commemorating all the saints. November 2 is Il Giorno dei Morti, which means the Day of the Dead in Italian: All Soul’s Day.
November 1st is a public holiday, so children don’t have school and offices are closed. Therefore, Day of the Dead traditions take place on November 1st along with Ognissanti. A special mass dedicated to the deceased is held at the cemetery. Italians visit the graves of loved ones who have died, bringing gifts, flowers and candles.
Italians also prepare special dolci dei morti, or desserts of the dead. In the Siena, Tuscany area, there are pan co’ santi, a sweet bread roll with pepper, walnuts and raisins. There is also a great variety of cookies called ossa dei morti, or the dead’s bones, which change from region to region.