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Easter Treats and Their Place in Italian Everyday Language

Le uova – Multi-color, chocolate or those filled with a fun surprise. Symbols of spring, new life and renewal, eggs seem to be everywhere at this time of the year.

In Italy, chocolate eggs are the most popular, and the bigger the better. In the days preceding Easter, many bakeries and cafes often display a huge chocolate egg beautifully decorated that you can win as a lottery prize. Eggs are also commonplace in the Italian language.

Following the big meals of Easter Sunday, when Catholics break their lent starting with breakfast and moving onto lunch, someone is likely to say: “Sono pieno come un uovo” – I am full like an egg. This means that their stomach has reached its maximum capacity and they are no longer able to fit anything else in it.

When people stumble onto difficult conversations they might feel like they are “Camminando sulle uova” – walking on eggs. This expression alludes to the fact that they are handling something very delicate – like talking about difficult topics – and they have to be very careful as they do it. Otherwise, they might break the eggs – or break into a fight.

Another common saying is: “Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani” – It is better to have an egg today then a hen tomorrow – meaning that it is better to make the most of what you have now, though small, instead of hoping for something bigger that you don’t have yet.  

When someone wants to talk about one big achievement, a problem that nobody could solve but that in reality was very easy, s/he would say that it was like L’uovo di Colombo – Columbus’ egg. This aphorism was born from the popular anecdote about Columbus, who showed the Spaniards how to make an egg stay upright. He gently tapped it on the table cracking the shell just the necessary amount, and left it standing on a flat surface.

At times one might hear: “Rompere le uova nel paniere” – to break eggs in the basket - meaning to ruin someone else's plans.

If a person is extremely picky, the expression “Cercare il pelo nell’uovo” – to look for a hair in the egg – is used. This happens when someone is splitting hairs to prove a point.

Eggs are hidden in many Italian everyday language expressions, and now that you know about them, you might start a new kind of Easter hunt.  

Buona Pasqua!

YouTube: How To Make Chocolate Eggs (IT)
Giallo Zafferano: Neapolitan Ricotta Cheese Easter Pie (EN)

Article written by Gaia Mencagli in collaboration with the ICC Editorial Team 

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