Santo Sgeveno…

November 24, 2016 / Local Interest

(A tradition in its own right by this point, we are glad to re-publish this note for all the new ItalianNotebook readers who have signed up in the past twelve months.)


In the Italian-American neighborhood where my grandmother grew up, the folks would wish each other Auguri (best wishes) di Santo Sgeveno around this time of year.

“Come again? Santo who?”

Think about it… You get the day off from work and the kids are off from school. Everyone (as in the ENTIRE family) gets together at home and cooks special this-holiday-only food all day. There is sheer pandemonium in the kitchen. Then you sit down together with the family and friends for hours on end and eat the special food and desserts until you’re all about to keel over. It’s obviously a Saint’s festa (religious holiday) of some sort.

“Uhh, right.. but I didn’t quite catch the saint’s name…”

Santo Sgeveno, no?!”

“Hmmm… doesn’t ring a bell, sorry.”

“Me neither! But everybody here in America keeps wishing us and each other Happy Saint Sgivin. Bah… must be some important santo Americano that we didn’t have back in Italia.”

Long story short, enjoy your meal and your time with family and friends, and allow us to extend our warmest…

Auguri di Santo Sgeveno to you all.




by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

89 Responses to “Santo Sgeveno…”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    A fab note and I love the linguistic confusion! A handsome turkey as well. Happy Thanksgiving, GB!

  2. Oh my goodness…I have never laughed so hard over a note! And a very Happy Santa Sgeven to you and all our American friends here!

  3. GB,
    You certainly have a way with words, both in English and Italian or a combination of both!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and thank you for my daily dose of all things “Italian”!

  4. I so much enjoy this site each and every day. As my Italian American famiglia gather tomorrow, I will also be wishing a Happy Santa Sgeven!

  5. MaryAnn Zeppetello

    What a hoot. My progenitors sure had a way with words; i.e. Colander became” Water go home, spaghetti stay here” .The out house became the “backhouse”. Easy the was at the outside at the back of the house.
    Happy Santa Sgeven to you all and thanks for this illuminating site on my other country.

    • Joe La Marca

      Re: “The out house became the “backhouse.” There were many outhouses in my rural Southeastern Louisiana mostly Sicilian immigrant town. (The last one I recall being built in the neighborhood was in the 1950s.) So common was the term, “backhouse,” that it was also used to refer to the toilet by us folks who had indoor plumbing.

  6. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    GRAZIE MILLE! Tanti Auguri.
    I always enjoy your articles.
    Keep sending them.

  7. Gian Banchero

    How many of us had immigrant mothers and grandmothers who always cooked “il turco” (a Turk) instead of tacchino (turkey) every Thanksgiving? Ha!

  8. Dr M G Stephens

    I remember this from last year, but only when I got to the end of the piece, so I was fooled once again. Lei e cattivo. Ma si bene. BRAVO!

  9. Laura Maione

    Right back atcha, GB :) This makes me smile every time I think of it!! Auguri di Santo Sgeveno to all {{{{}}}}*

  10. That’s hilarious. Thanks so much! Sadly, I didn’t pay close enough attention when I was a kid. I wonder if my grandparents wished us Auguri di Santo Sgeveno, before they force-fed us the antipasti, lasagne, turkey, roast beef,carciofi etc etc.

  11. At my house, my Italian parents would tell us, “c’mon, of course” when they were trying to rush us out the door “di corsa”! And Thanksgiving always featured Lasagne as well as turkey (perchè come si fa a mangiare il secondo senza primo?)
    Buon Santo Sgeveno!

  12. Well said Carol! GB-Remembering this from last year makes me think about all the great notes I have read-thanks for keeping Italy close to me!

  13. Carole Calvello

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving/Santo Sgevano,
    Love this site more than I can express.
    Look forward to this site, and cannot express the thank you for all I have learned from it.
    God Bless,
    Carole Terese

  14. Roberto Ferrante

    Thank you for the continuing visits to my parents place of birth. It kindles my heart.

    Ciao, ~~~~ Roberto

  15. Charles M. Luther

    I had to read this one a couple of times before I caught on. See, in America not even Catholics expect a holiday to have anything to do with some “saint”. In fact, I do not know a single person who thinks of “saints” t any time, certainlly not on a holiday.

    • Dolores Giorgio

      now THAT I remember hearing from my beautiful grandmother Rosa Flora…ahhh memories :)

  16. You have ALL said it ALL ! wonderful, A Great Day to ALL, Enjoy Everything !

  17. …and I love the tradition of seeing this post. Makes me smile every year… A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours GB.

  18. Nana would be so proud! Love to you, GB, and all of us scattered around the globe…..

  19. This is better than the Thanksgiving Parade from my hometown New York!
    My heritage is Irish/German, but my heartstrings are Italian! Hope to visit my favorite country soon again where every day is a Festa!

  20. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    Mille Grazie … You always make my day … including Saint Sgivin’

  21. Rendo grazie al notebook italiano! I’m Irish too, but recently I asked my mom, ‘are you sure there’s no Italian in my blood anywhere down the line???’ I’m more Italian then some of my Italian friends! :)

  22. Clare and John Gambino

    Buona fortuna a lei ! I love celebrating Santo Sgeveno , now more than ever since you have shared this great new way: Auguri di Santo Sgeveno .

  23. Lucy diCapua

    A warm note from warm loving people! Thank you for sharing this long celebrated Santo Sgeveno… Happy Thanksgiving to you all.(How many years went by before we cut out the pasta? Did your Moms do that too?)

  24. Between GB’s “Santo Svegeno” and Gian Banchero’s 2009 note “il Turco”, I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. I relate to this from my mothers side of the family. My grandmother called it “ru vech” (the turkey). However, in my childhood home, it was very clear that turkey was called “tacchino” in Italian, and Thanksgiving was “Festa di Ringraziamento”.
    IN-I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving as well, grazie.

  25. Carol Burke

    While we sympathize and laugh over the phonetics of Santo Svegeno, consider what WE we have done with the orgiins of our ‘Santa Claus’. I wonder if any child (or many adults) knows the origin, correct spelling or pronunciation of the original.

  26. Colleen Simmpson

    One of my favorites and even better the second time around, just like turkey and dressing leftovers! I will be cooking two Santo Sgeveno feasts this year for my friends in Piegaro, Umbria…16 at each seating. It will become our village tradition now that we are here almost all year.

    Tanti aguri e Santo Sgeveno to all friends at Italian Notebook!!

  27. Laura Maione

    One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions! Baci to all the family near and far!

  28. burt levrini

    and a happy santo tankagivene to u GB-that’s how my grandmother would say it,as she prepared the turkree and the pasta -always pasta with tomato sauce meatballs and sausages-!!beside a dozen other dishes-so that when we finally go to the turkey phase everyone was stuffed —-

  29. Tanti Augri allo Santo Sgeveno. We are thankful for your Italiannotebook. I also grew up in an Italian American home. Lasagna with all holiday meals was a must – including Thanksgiving. Grazie Mille

  30. I was born and raised in Rome lived in Via Veneto, and had lots of American friends but I never heard of ST, Sgeveno. But anything is possible, Have a Happy Thanksgiving day.

  31. It’s a lovely story but it doesn’t answer the question, who is San Sgeveno?

    • GB

      heheh… that’s the Italian name for Saint Sgivin… as in “Happy Saint Sgivin.” (hint: say “Happy Saint Sgivin” quickly five times)

  32. John Figliozzi

    This was great. Once a month on a Sunday afternoon after church our family visited my father’s parents, along with all his brothers and their kids. There was indeed pandemonium in my grandmother’s kitchen in Brooklyn NY. As she produced plate after plate she was fond of telling us kids “Mangia, mangia, esgufia.”
    I finally learned she was not speaking Italian. She was trying to say “it’s good for you” in her strong Calabrese accented English.

  33. “Esgufia” — ha! As my mother would say, “that cracks me down!” Happy Thanksgiving, GB!

  34. Ginny Siggia

    Cute! My Italian mother-in-law loved nothing more than a holiday with her loved ones gathered in. Over the generations the nuclear families shrank, making it even more important to gather. An important feature of the adult community to which she eventually moved was that private meeting rooms could be reserved for your own use. It was large enough to hold all of us at Thanksgiving. The table was set up already and looked elegant. We ate from an astounding buffet and didn’t have to wash dishes! HOWEVER, there was no escaping the traditional post-dinner walk. We moaned and groaned, as we did every year, but by the end of the walk everyone felt good and had enjoyed some good chats along the way.

  35. Gian Banchero

    Gee-manny-whizzy, this comment page is delightfully growing every year!! I was hoping it would return and wasn’t disappointed!!!! ~~Buona Festa a Tutti!!!!

  36. marianna raccuglia

    So funny! Thank you – I so enjoy all the postings that all the wonderful writers take the time to submit.

  37. Joan Tolotti O'Grady

    If you say “Happy thanksgiving ” with a heavy Italian accent over and over again, like the Southern Italians would say it years ago upon arrival from Italy, it could come out to be Hoppi Sansgivin. Reminds me of the early immigrants asking for the bathroom by saying “dove e’ la bachous” Where is the Back House, or the bathroom. Love your Newsletter and use it as a travel guide for all my travels to Italy. Sansgivin to yu.

  38. John Figliozzi

    I’ve read this several years now and it never gets old! Auguri to you and all of the IN contributors and their families.

  39. Bob Giannetti

    Ciao tutti, My grandmother would
    Remind us kids we should be thankful by. Telling us “you lucky you livi”

  40. THANKS so very much! I was hoping you would post it again…it has become a tradition for all of us who follow the Italian Notebook. Tanti auguri a tutti! Emanuela

  41. To all the Gentile, Maione, and Picchietti cousins scattered around the globe,
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful and blessed Christmas.
    Thank you GB. I look forward to this note every year.

  42. Rosemary Johnson

    Just got back from a HUGE Thanksgiving meal! It was a mix of American and Italian food, and my son and I talked a lot about the wonderful food we had in Italy in 2015. Thanks for the pictures and have a wonderful day!

  43. John Figliozzi

    I enjoy seeing this each year. My grandmother used to urge us kids to “mangia mangia escufia “. Some years went by before I learned she was trying to say “eat eat it’s good for you!” In her limited and phonetic English.
    May God bless all of our ancestors who left their home to provide a future for their children. And may we always remember their courage and struggles for us to enjoy this day. Grazie mille GB.

  44. Lina Falcone

    Grazie e auguri mi piacciono sempre i vostri articoli. Grazie mille. Buona giornata.

  45. Ahhhh, GB, I was hoping you would re-post it: Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without this story! Thanks a lot and hope you all had a wonderful day!!!


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