Italy’s Best New Year’s Traditions

It’s a holiday that is rich in tradition and a bit of superstition, New Year’s Day in Italy.

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Italian-style: Banish bad luck and old pans

Here’s how Italians have traditionally launched New Year’s Eve celebrations, especially in southern Italy: By throwing out old pots and pans, clothes, appliances, and furniture. Really! It is meant to be a symbol of “letting go” past unhappiness in order to prepare for the future. Even though most Italians have abandoned this tradition, you should still be on guard when you walk down the streets of Naples on New Years Eve.

One last chance to fire up the Yule Log

Another tradition is to light the Christmas log at the end of the year. Turns out, evil spirits don’t like fire! It is also an invitation to Mary the Virgin, who can warm the newborn Jesus beside the warm flames. Tradition says that the ashes were used by families to protect their home from any damage.

For New Year’s Eve, light up the log once more!

Red undies are the best way to bring luck!

Yes, red underwear is luck. This applies to both men and women. This is why all those red underwears are hanging up in shops windows during this time of the year.

For a prosperous New Year, eat the right foods

Cotechino is a traditional Italian New Year’s meal that includes lentils and polenta. Photo by Creative Commons.

It is about abundance in Italy that a traditional New Year’s Eve dinner symbolizes. This is what you want the new year to be about. In Piedmont, rice represents coins–so traditional dinner is risotto in bianco (white risotto). Many dishes in Italy also include lentils, which symbolize wealth, and raisins for good luck.

Lentils with cotechino are a popular side dish. This is a large pork sausage that’s cooked over low heat for four hours. Modena’s cotechino is protected by law, but it is also a traditional product in Lombardy and Molise. Zampone is a sausage made from a hollowed out pig’s trotter. The pieces of either one look like coins when they are cut. This is also the intention to bring wealth into the new year.

Treats to make the New Years sweet

Ancient Romans shared jars with dates and figs in honey to ensure a sweet new beginning. They also gave each other bay branches for good luck. Guess what? It hasn’t changed in Naples where people still exchange figs wrapped with laurel leaves.

Be on the lookout for fireworks

The bad spirits are also scared away by loud noises and fireworks. Expect lots of fireworks for New Year’s Eve. Every city and most Italian towns put on a spectacular display. Families and friends often throw their own fireworks or host their own. This is a more risky option. Be careful when you’re out and about!

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