Italian Culture

Naming

  • Italian naming conventions are similar to those in Australia, with the surname following the first name, e.g. Alessandro CAPONE (male) and Francesca SORRENTINO (female).
  • Many Italian names end in a vowel. For men, ‘o’, ‘e’ or ‘i’ are common: e.g. Gianni, Alberto, Dante. Female names commonly end in ‘a’ or ‘e’: e.g. Sofia, Adele.
  • Many people are named after their grandparents; however, parents are increasingly choosing new names for their children.


Name Days

Traditionally, most Italians had a name that corresponded to a saint. In some regions such as Campania, the name day of that saint is celebrated as if it were one’s birthday. For common names, there might be multiple days during the year to celebrate a saint, but Italians usually pick only one day to celebrate. Some Italian villages, towns and cities are also named after a particular saint and will celebrate the day as a public holiday. Some saints are considered more important than others due to the role they play in the Bible, such as Pietro (Saint Peter), Paolo (Saint Paul) and Giuseppe (Saint Joseph). 


In the past, name days were more important than birthdays. This may continue to be true for some people, usually for the elderly (as name days don’t remind them of how old they are). Today, most young Italians consider the name day to be less important than one’s birthday.

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