What does Buon Natale mean?
When December 25th arrives, in Italy everyone starts wishing, from the cashier at the grocery store to your closest friends, a “Buon Natale".
Directly translated, buon Natale means “good Christmas”.
The meaning of the word “Natale” is rooted in the word "birth" in Latin. Therefore, by wishing each other a Merry Christmas in Italy, we wish each other "a good birth".
Christmas is a day of birth. It is origin, celebration, warmth, sharing. Someone's Christmas explains who they are, where they come from. And whether you consider it a Christian Christmas, or Dies Sol Invictus, or any other form of Christmas, it's good to wish each other well.
It seems that Italy is one of the few places in Europe and the U.S. where the expression of Christmas wishes hasn’t been changed to “Happy Holidays”'. In Belgium and Holland, for example, it is now practice to simply wish each other "happy holidays" and Christmas school vacations are no longer called that, but are simply "winter vacations" (in Italy the term “vacanze di Natale” is commonly used).
Of course, Italy is known for its strong sense of culture. “Buon Natale” is another example of Italians upholding tradition through language.