ZUCCA: Word of the week

ZUCCA: Word of the week: With Halloween rapidly approaching, the colourful pumpkin has its moment of glory and our word of the week was easily chosen.  Pumpkin in Italian is ZUCCA.

In England, literally in every corner, one can find piles of pumpkins of different size and shapes just waiting to be carved for the special occasion.


Preparing the Halloween Pumpkin was an appointment I wouldn’t have missed for anything in the world when the children were little and England is wrapped up in a magical spooky silly atmosphere.

It was a lovely time, followed by a warm and spicy pumpkin soup,  the English way,  followed by salted pumpkin seeds roasted in the oven  ready to be eaten in front of a spooky movie after dinner, according to Italian custom. A mix of the two worlds in my home.

Halloween in UK
Halloween in UK

Halloween is not an Italian tradition, it started in the US  as the celebration of the dead on October 31st ( in Italy celebrated on November 1st) and soon became associated more than anything with Jack O’Lantern’s face carved on big rounded pumpkins and parties with scary costumes for people of all ages.

However, Italians have lately welcomed and embraced happily this American and English tradition mainly for children, “Trick or Treat “ knocking at the door included ( In Italian they shout “ DOLCETTO o SCHERZETTO”!!??)

Jack O’Lantern The Story:

The story is about an Irishman with a really bad temper, Jack O’Lantern, who repeatedly tricked the Devil who was trying to steal his soul. His temper was so foulI that, eventually, even the Devil promised to leave him alone and promised  not look for him anymore.

ZUCCA di Halloween
ZUCCA di Halloween

But Jack, after his death, ended up in hell where he met again the devil who sent him away to wander alone , armed only  with a burning ember that, from that moment, Jack used in the night to light his way. To prevent the wind from blowing out the burning ember, he took an empty turnip and put the lantern inside. This is the reason why the Irish used to put the turnips lit on Halloween night at the windows. In America the turnip became a pumpkin, as it was the most common vegetable in those areas.

Italian expressions with ZUCCA

ZUCCA is different from  ZUCCHINO (courgette or zucchini).  Lo ZUCCOTTO is a desert defined as SEMI-FREDDO as it is partially an ice cream, GELATO, but wrapped up in sponge cake (in Italian called  PAN DI SPAGNA). The name comes from its shape, like a Zuccotto  per cavallerizzi (helmet for jockeys).

ZUCCA is also used as a way to say TESTA (head), here some expressions linked to this meaning:

ANDAR FUORI DI ZUCCA: Perdere la ragione; non capire più niente.(Going crazy)

ESSERE UNA ZUCCA (fam): Fig.: essere ottusi, poco intelligenti, non capire le cose. (Being thick, not clever)


ESSERE UNO ZUCCONE o UNA ZUCCA DURA (fam): Fig.: essere cocciuti, testardi, difficili da convincere di qualcosa. (Being stubborn)

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