Who Knows the Italian Expression – Durare da Natale a Santo Stefano?

With Christmas flying by us and the joy of the holidays fading as we enter the New Year, an old Italian saying comes to mind signifying something short-lived. As Italian Enthusiasts, we recognize that a strong grasp of Italian culture requires an understanding of the Italian language, including its idioms, proverbs and metaphors. The saying, “durare da Natale a Santo Stefano” seems appropriate during this period, and one that can be used throughout the entire year.

Durare da Natale a Santo Stefano is a typical expression used all over Italy. Literally, it means “to last from Christmas to Saint Stephen’s Day” (from December 25 to December 26). As there are no more than 24-hours between the 25th and 26th, the expression clearly indicates something that is not meant to last for long. If this expression is used about something, you better not rely on it too much.

For example, if your friend talks to you about his/her complicated relationship, it may be appropriate to say, “oh, that will last from Christmas to Saint Stephen’s Day”, or durerà da Natale a Santo Stefano.

Similarly, if you acquire a cheap pair of shoes, you may think, “these will last from Christmas to Saint Stephen’s Day”, or dureranno da Natale a Santo Stefano.

Please note that the … da Natale a Santo Stefano will remain the same, but the verb durare, which comes first, will change depending on the context. See the examples below:

I will last = durerò. Example: I will begin my diet tomorrow, but I know durerò da Natale a Santo Stefano.

You will last = durerai. Example: Your lazy friend tells you he will begin a strenuous workout regime at the gym, and you tell him, durerai da Natale a Santo Stefano.

He/She/It will last = durerà. Example: Someone gifts you a designer knockoff product from China, and you think, durerà da Natale a Santo Stefano.

We will last = dureremo. Example. You and your spouse decide to start saving money, and then you realize: Who are we kidding? Dureremo da Natale a Santo Stefano!

You (plural) will last = durerete. Example: Your two spoiled friends decided to enlist in the Army and go to bootcamp. You tell them, durerete da Natale a Santo Stefano!

They will last = dureranno. Example: Your friends give your toddler new toys for his birthday, and you think, dureranno da Natale a Santo Stefano.

The saying, durare (to last) da Natale a Santo Stefano is used all over Italy, with slight variations depending on the dialect. In Ferrara, for example, where the dialect is known as “Ferrarese”, the expression is stated as: duràr da Nadàl a Sant Stefan. The examples I used above, however, are taken from the mainstream Italian language used mostly all over the country.


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