Italian language and culture lovers, do I have a word for you! Have you ever heard someone called a “mammone?” It’s an Italian word to describe someone who is more than a little obsessed with their mom aka the Italian equivalent of a mamma’s boy. The ongoing joke is that Italian moms purposefully create this mammone son, who literally counts on her for everything from laundry, to meals, to cleaning their room even well past the age of 30, so that the son never leaves home.
But why does Italy seem to have so many of these mammoni men? Partially it’s not their fault. The Italian economy being what it is means that most Italians live at home well into their twenties. Also, the way the school and university system is set up, Italians don’t generally graduate college until their mid-twenties, and then have to try to find work. Part time jobs while going to high school or college is absolutely unheard of in Italy. So, by the time men have enough money to live on their own, they are often pushing 30. And, then there are the mamme themselves. They enjoy taking care of their families (often how they were raised to do so) and so there isn’t ever a need for an Italian man to learn to do a thing! Forget ironing, cooking or even loading the dishwasher – mamma will do it.
Let me tell you a little story to really make my point. I have a wonderful supportive husband and I adore my mother in law, but I too was with one of these mammone at first. He had never lived out of his parents home, done laundry, done dishes, ironed or even cooked a meal. Luckily, he wanted to learn and help out, so the problem was short lived. But to give you an idea how this concept of men helping around the house goes over, my mother in law literally told me once that my dear husband’s grandfather would roll over in his grave if he found out his grandson was ironing his own shirts. Then I had to endure a few tense years where she insisted on “teaching” me household chores that I already knew how to do. It was her way of urging that I actually do them all and leave her poor son out of it. She just couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t want do them for Marco if I knew how. Needless to say, she doesn’t push the subject anymore and Marco is perfectly happy cooking, cleaning and helping around the house.
Hope you enjoyed this look into Italian culture on this episode of 2minutes2italy! Ciao ciao!