There is nothing like a new year to remind people to re-set and start again. The fresh start offered by January 1st is so tempting that every country seems to have created superstitions about what to do on New Year’s Eve to make sure to get off on the right foot. Most of the New Year’s traditions in Italy are no exception – they are all about what to eat, how to dress, and what customs to follow in order to ensure good luck for the next 365 days.
Here are the seven best New Year’s traditions in Italy that you can use to ring in the new year wherever you may be celebrating la festa di San Silvestro:
New Year’s Eve Traditions in Italy
- Have a huge dinner
Most holidays in Italy seem to naturally revolve around food and New Year’s is no exception. On New Year’s in Italy it is traditional to sit down for a huge meal – a cenone, if you will. If you plan to go out for the evening meal, expect a pricey set menu and a lot of cheerful atmosphere. But regardless of if you are dining in or eating out – there will probably be lentils somewhere on the menu.
- Eat lentils
In Spain, you dine on grapes at midnight, but in Italy, you eat lentils for New Year’s. The tiny legumes can be cooked in many ways, but they are most traditionally eaten with cotecchino – a kind of pork sausage. Lentils are considered to bring good luck in Italy for New Year’s because the tiny round legumes resemble coins. Eat a lot because they supposedly bring wealth in the coming year.
- Throw out your old stuff, literally
In Italy, “out with the old” can be taken literally when New Year’s rolls around. In some parts of the country, particularly in the south, it is customary to throw your old things (including furniture!) out of the window at midnight. Watch out if you will be celebrating out on the streets because you may be hit by someone clearing out the house in preparation for the new good fortune that the new year will hopefully bring.
Pop the prosecco
When the clock strikes midnight, you should have a glass of sparkling wine in hand. Leave the champagne to France and find a bottle of Italian bubbly like prosecco to ring in the new year. As is the custom in many other places, it is traditional to seal the countdown to midnight with a kiss (or a double cheek kiss for friends) and to wish them all the best for the new year.
- Wear red underwear
In the days leading up to December 31st, every store and stand in Italy seems to be advertising red underwear. That is because wearing red undergarments is supposed to bring good luck in the new year. Go ahead and pick up a pair to wear while you wait for midnight. However, for the red underwear to be really lucky, it should only be worn on NYE. Throw it out the next day if you want to observe the older version of this Italian New Year’s tradition.
- Watch the fireworks
Like many places, Italy likes to ring in the new year with a firework display. The celebratory explosions light up the sky after the clock strikes 12, and can be seen in almost every city and most large towns. Naples and the Amalfi Coast are particularly well known for their impressive New Year’s fireworks.
- Leave the house with money in your pocket
Get a little shut-eye after staying up until midnight, but then get off on the right start on January 1st by making sure you have a little money in your pocket when you leave the house. This Italian New Year’s tradition plays on the superstition that if you leave the house with money on the first day of the year, you will always have something in your pocket to spend every day of the year.
Wishing you a Happy New Year! Buon Anno!
Do you celebrate with any other New Year’s traditions in Italy?