Traditionally, Italian men stayed home to take care of the household while women worked outside to bring back money to sustain the family. As a result, Italian women would wish for good luck and prosperity by wishing for a male son. This phrase is often translated as “in boca al lupo,” which means “in the mouth of a wolf.” In English, this expression would be equivalent to “break a leg.”
One of the most common Italian greetings is “in bocca al lupo,” which translates to “in the mouth of a wolf.” Though its origins are unclear, it is most likely connected to the image of wolves from the past, when they were considered dangerous. Therefore, it’s also appropriate to wish someone good luck by using this expression. However, it’s better to avoid saying “in bocca al lupo” directly, since it carries the connotations of a curse.
Other phrases to wish good fortune include: “in culo alla balena” – which means “in the craw” or “in the ass of a whale,” and “meglio tardi che mai!” – both sarcastic proverbs meant to apologize for a delay in an action or competition. In Italian, if someone is not prepared to lose a competition, they should use this phrase to remind them to stay calm.