Into the mouth of the wolf. Why do Italians wish you that?
“Into the mouth of the wolf”.
This is the most common expression of “good luck” in Italian. here you can grasp how original Italian is. It would be too predictable and banal saying just “I wish you well and happiness”. Italians can’t help being creative.
The answer to this wish is as creative: “may (the wolf) die!”. To understand why Italians wish each other this, you probably should go back to hunting times, when hunters had to face wild forrests full of wolves. And to exorcise the fear they made jokes about their main terror.
What is even stranger is that in contemporary times animalistic ideology has started to say that it is not good to wish the death of an animal, so they say we should answer “may (the wolf) live”. And let the man die. Or try to survive between a wolf’s teeth. They also say that the wolf carries its puppies in its mouth, so the wish is positive. Who knows. I’d prefer not to end up in a wolf’s mouth.
“into the mouth of the wolf” is just the first wish of a long list of strange wishes. If you are looking for a trivial one, which used to be very common, you could find “in the whale’s ass!” to which you should answer “let’s hope it doesn’t fart!”.
And if you go deeper into Italy and you look for other regional expressions you may find a flourishing of incredible wishes. I write down only one, coming from my original region, Romagna. If an old man meets another old pal in the main square, you could probably hear one saying to the other: “May you get cancer in the ass”.
But he does not mean to offend the other, but to express his friendship by exorcising a horrible fear.
All right, now you know why it is better to use “Into the mouth of the wolf”.
Written in Inglish