New Year’s – Italian style

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Well, it’s new year’s eve again. One that almost half a planet didn’t expect, given last week’s expectations. Big fail. Moving on.

Looking back, 2012 was OK. I’ve had good moments as well as bad ones but what is life without ups and downs, really? I managed to achieve some of the goals I set exactly one year ago, others failed miserably but I got up on my feet and made new plans right away. As Dojo said, going through life with no plans is like being a bit blind.

That being said, coming up next is the celebration of the end of an era (literally, the Mayans supposedly decided it) and the start of a new one. This New year’s will be a peaceful one, hopefully. I’m sorry I’m not home with my loved ones but even so, I’ll try to make the best of it so that, when I go visit, I’ll have something nice to talk about.

If last year Dojo went to Spain and ate grapes at midnight, it’s time I tell you how the Italians celebrate New Year’s. I’ve been ‘studying them up close’ for a while, so to say, and I picked up some of their traditions.

new year's in Italy

Needless to say, the Italians are normal people, just like everyone else around the world. Don’t think that they perform weird rituals around midnight. Most of them celebrate New Year’s at home with their families, in a nice restaurant or on the streets of the cities, drinking champagne and enjoying the New Year’s special concerts that are organized every year. Last year, half of my family came to visit (meaning my dad and his holiday spirit :P). We tried to attend the end of the year’s celebration but we arrived so late, we barely got to see the last fireworks. It was 12:05. We tried to video call the loved ones at home but the internet connection was very slow and they barely could hear us speak. We eventually gave up, laughed hard and decided to slowly head home and just enjoy the rest of the night as a family.

You see, the Italians celebrate New Year’s just as any other nation. However, there are some traditions that they don’t honor anymore but they still feel proud to talk about. One of the most interesting ones has something to do with superstitions. I’m not superstitious myself but it seems that some Italians take things quite seriously.

One of their New year’s tradition is… throwing old stuff out the window. Yes, that’s right, they used to throw old pots, clothes and even chairs out the window as a sign of letting go of the past. As you can imagine, they don’t do this anymore for obvious reasons. However, there are some regions of Italy where they still carry on this “ritual”, but instead of throwing a used pan in someone’s head, some Italians choose a small and soft object to throw out the window, such as an old toy or a T-shirt. I’ve never seen this myself but then again, I prefer to stay indoors this time of year, some people tend to go crazy with the New Year’s drinking and firecrackers.

Moving on, to food.
I think every nation has something special, customs and traditions related to food. Well, Italians MUST eat lentils. Lentils are the most important dish Italians can have on the New Year’s table. They symbolize that which no one has enough of: money. It is said that if you eat a bite of lentils when the Church bells strike midnight, you will be a wealthy person next year. I can’t help but wonder how they wish each other Happy New Year with their mouth full and also while trying to drink champagne when the clock says it’s midnight. I personally don’t like how lentils taste so I guess I’ll never know.

zampone, cotechino

Another very important Italian dish that is traditionally eaten for the holidays is ‘cotechino‘. A ‘cotechino‘ is a pork sausage that has to be boiled at low temperature for a few hours (boiling takes about 4 hours, if i understood correctly). It’s served with lentils, along with zampone‘, another type of sausage. This one, the ‘zampone‘ is some sort of a stuffed pig’s trotter.

Now that you saw what Italians eat for New Year’s, lets’ move on to what they wear.
It’s a tradition that Italian people wear new clothes when celebrating new year’s. It’s a way of celebrating the fact that a new beginning is here. But that’s not the fun part. The fun part is that everyone has to have red underwear. That includes men. Now I know why all the stores are full of red undies and panties exposed and on sale.

See? Italians have interesting traditions too. I’m not Italian myself so I’m having a bit of a dilemma as to what I’m “supposed” to eat and do at New Year’s. I guess I’ll do what I always do: eat a light meal, call my loved ones to wish them a Happy New Year, smile when it’s 12:00 o’clock and drink champagne. And for all of you out there, Happy New Year!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Happy new year, Adi. Thank you for letting us know all about Italian traditions. It’s nice to be able to peek into their lifestyle 🙂

    Can’t wait to see you again in person 🙂

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