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  • Frequently Asked Questions About Italian Traditions

    Are there any traditional Italian or Sicilian wedding anniversary gifts for someon who is celebrating their 50th anniversary?

    Much like in the United States, Italians give couples items that are gold-plated or actual gold for their 50th anniversary, which is also known as the "golden anniversary". If the couple is Catholic, you can have a Mass said in their honor, also. Of course, you can write Auguri! (which means congratulations) or Buon Anniversario! (which means Happy Anniversary) on the card.

    I am going to visit friends and family in Italy. What are some gift ideas that represent America that I can bring them?

    Aprons, dish towels, tablecloths, gadgets (especially for baking and barbecue because we have different items than they do) are great gifts for those who like to cook. Baseball caps and T-shirts with either all-American logos (Coca-Cola, Gap, Polo, Tommy Hilfiger) or sports teams (New York Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Knicks, etc.) are good gifts for everyone if you have a good idea about size. Beach towels are perfect for those who live near the beach. Women appreciate belts, scarves, hair accessories and purses. Action figures, puzzles (especially of American scenes), English-Italian pictionaries, and baseballs and footballs make great presents for children. For the smokers in the family you can always bring them cigarettes (Marlboro especially) and flavored cigars. One thing lots of Italians like to get from an American is American candy, especially Hershey bars and kisses, snickers, M&Ms, and chewing gum.

    What type of gifts can I give the parents of a newborn baby?

    If the couple is Catholic (which 98% of Italians are), then a typical present either at the birth or the baptism of the child is a cross or crucifix or saint's medallion, all of which can hang from a chain. Italian boys and men wear jewelry, so this is an appropriate gift for baby girls or boys. It's thought of as a blessing. If you go the saint route, you should pick either the namesake saint or one that has particular meaning to the family. For instance, if the child is named Antonio or Anthony, a Saint Anthony medallion would be appropriate. If the family comes from Naples, Saint Gennaro would work because that's the city's patron saint.

    If there's a Little Italy or Italian specialty store near you, then you might want to take a stroll there. Often, these stores import everything from handmade knit blankets or booties from the Italian south (everyone's zia or nonna makes them these things at birth) to Italian leather baby bags for transporting bottles, diapers and everything else baby needs. Someone there could also show you some of the more popular imported items.

    When you write the card, you can use the phrase, "Auguri!" It means, "Congrats!"

    Really, Italy isn't much different from the States. If you give a gift from the heart, your friends will be appreciative no matter what it is.

    I have been invited to a wedding in Italy. What can I get the newlyweds?

    I understand that you're invited to an Italian wedding, and you are wondering what to get the newlyweds. Italians register in various stores in Italy just as Americans do. However, if you'd prefer to bring something from the United States, money (converted to Euro) is the best bet. I usually give about 100 euro to close friends and relatives. The standard is 100 euro per person invited to the wedding.

    Are there any traditional Italian house warming gifts that I can give to a new homeowner?

    There are a number of different gifts you can give to a new homeowner. I have put together a list of Traditional House Warming Gifts and the significance behind each item.


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