Donald Duck Day in Italy

donald-duck

Happy Donald Duck Day from Italy! Yes, I know what you’re thinking — another one of those weird holiday posts! Sorry, they just seem to get the best of me! But Donald Duck Day actually commemorates something! His début on 9 June 1934 in The Wise Little Hen!  

Donald Duck has achieved nearly worldwide fame. And in most nations, he’s known by his name. Donald plus the local word for Duck. In the Czech Republic he’s known as Kacer Donald. In Indonesia as Bebek Donald. And Spain knows him as Pato Donald.

Likewise, Mickey Mouse usually bears his given name. The French call him Mickey la Souris. In Norway he harkens to Mikke Mus. And in Russia Mukku Mayc.

Donald is known by his own name in many nations, but not in Italy, partly due to Fascism.

And perhaps in part to Italy’s prolific black market.

The first here publisher didn’t get publishing rights before presenting Mickey Mouse (Topolino) in 1932 . But Disney’s official Italian representative, naturally, protested the lack of publishing rights.

But that didn’t stop the intrepid (if perhaps not totally ethical) publisher.” No problem! They simply gave Topolino a new face and a new name. Topolino (meaning Little Mouse) became Topo Lino, which literally means A Mouse Named Lino. 

When they eventually bought the publishing rights, Topo Lino once again became Topolino or Mickey Mouse. It’s difficult to say whether they might have eventually adopted the American name, as Italy gradually got more foreign influx. But the rise of Fascism quickly put an end to any such thought.

In 1938, the dictator Benito Mussolini, declared that the only American stories that could be published in Italy were Disney stories.

Some seem to think that perhaps Mussolini or his children liked Disney stories. But more likely it was because of polical wrangling by the publishers. And because the Disney characters had quickly gained in popularity.

In any case, they temporarily overlooked the fact that Disney was American. And Topolino lived on. Until 1941 when the USA entered World War II, when Italy outlawed all Disney stories.

Fascism, with its policy of Italian superiority did not approve of foreign names.

But even after its demise, the legacy of strictly Italian names still holds sway over the Disney characters.

  • Donald Duck became Paperino (Little Duck).
  • Daisy Duck is known as Paperina (Little Duck, female).
  • While Donald’s three nephews answer to Qui, Quo, e Qua, (derivatives of the “qua” sound the duck makes in Italian).
  • Scrooge Mc Duck turns into Zio Paperone (Big Uncle Duck).
  • Mickey Mouse takes the name of Topolino.
  • Minnie Mouse is Minni.
  • We call Goofy Pippo.
  • While Pluto remains Pluto.
  • And Chip and Dale are Cip and Ciop.

But no matter what names they go by, these famous Disney characters are much-loved practically everywhere! Italy included! And that’s why, at least in our house, we’re celebrating Happy Donald Duck Day in Italy!

And you can celebrate too, by watching Paperino and Topolino in Vacanze Hawaiane (Hawian Vacation), on Disney’s Italian site!

Resources: Topolino and Everyday Life in Fascist Venice.

[Image via Skitter; CC0]

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