Italian New Year’s Eve Traditions
We all celebrate the Holidays differently within cultures and within our individual families. The ball drop, champagne and wearing sparkly sequenced outfits are just some of the good ole’ American ways we like to ring in the New Year. Personally I always fall asleep with my champagne glass half empty and get woken up at midnight by my husband who INSISTS on the importance of a New Year’s kiss. Funny, how sometimes even the most menial of traditions are important to those who believe in them, no matter how silly they may seem to some.
Traditions are important. They make us feel warm and fuzzy inside and we are able to keep the history of our family's past alive every time we take part in that tradition year after year. It makes us feel good and loved and to pass on our traditions to others who end up adapting them is flattering and gives us small special somethings to look forward to.
I grew up in a small town in Calabria, Italy so of course most of our traditions revolved around food. Christmas Eve was always the feast of the seven fishes but on New Year’s Eve we always had a plate of lentils and Cotechino, in fact when I moved to the states and ran our fine dining restaurant Cotechino & Lentils were served all night long once we educated the consumer the why of the meal. Cotechino is a type of sausage and when eaten alongside prepared lentils before midnight on New Year’s Eve then legend had it that you would have an abundance of good luck and health in the New Year. The extra fat content in the Cotechino was symbolic of the abundance you were to receive and the lentils that of prosperity and good luck.
After dinner it was said that if you preserved dried grapes from the Autumn harvest to consume on New Year’s Eve that it meant you were patient and frugal and that all those who consumed the dried fruit would prosper greatly in the next year. Personally, we my family and I never partook in the latter tradition but you bet that every New Year’s Eve the table was full of Lentils & Cotechino as nobody wanted to tempt the folklore by not eating it!
If you are roaming the cobblestoned streets of Italy end December, beginning January, you might happen upon an abundance of red undergarments as the Italians believe that wearing red under your clothing on New Year’s Eve signifies good luck in the New Year and is the color of fertility for those who wish to have children in the upcoming year.
Some other traditions you might have heard of or come upon in a visit to Italy on New Year’s Eve is the banishing of things that are old to invite in the new such as getting rid of old pots and pans but the tradition states you must throw them from a window and/or smash them in front of the house. So don’t be too afraid if Nonna or Nonno start throwing items out of their windows on New Year’s Eve!
Lastly, the Eve of New Year’s in Italy, much like in other parts of the world, ends with a light show of fireworks to celebrate the old and welcome in the new. So this year, maybe try one or all of the above traditions and hey it can’t hurt unless, of course, you are the one walking under the windows when someone is throwing out their old pots & pans!
Click here for a recipe for Lentils & Cotechino from Rossella’s cooking with Nonna blog and don’t forget to add champagne and dessert to your grocery list that evening. For a simple, easy and delicious dessert visit Baratti & Milano and take a look at the Cooking with Baratti & Milano mixes that, within minutes, create a traditional Italian dessert that pairs perfectly with the Italian themed dinner to ring in the New Year!
Buon Anno Nuovo! (Happy New Year’s!)