Wearing a touch of red is looking like one of the tamer Italian traditions at new year’s. No guarantees, but something from this list might just turn your new year’s eve celebrations into a Capodanno to remember… Buona fortuna e Buon Anno a tutti!!!!
1. Smashing crockery at the stroke of midnight. Plates, cups, glasses, anything really. Apart from being an outlet for a year’s worth of pent up frustration, the noise is sure to send those spiriti maligni or evil spirits packing.
2. Throwing out (literally, as in heaving them over the edge of a balcony) old domestic appliances at the strike of mezzanotte. Out with the old and in with the new, I saw this happening on new year’s in Catania (Sicily’s second city) many years ago now. Thankfully, a tradition on its way out of fashion. Unwary pedestrians and hapless car owners rejoice.
3. Firing a shotgun. Extreme, I know. But this one’s in just to show how some traditions weren’t meant to last. It’s said two rounds in quick succession at midnight is the best technique for scaring off evil spirits. But I don’t think quite everyone in Italy know about that one…. Hopefully, unless you’re in Napoli maybe, this is another new year’s ritual fast fading into folklore. Hopefully.
4. Wearing red underwear. This is my favourite tradition at Capodanno. I love the romance in the way the shop windows – especially the luxury lingerie boutiques like the sublime La Perla (insert big sigh here) are transformed into sparkly, shiny red versions of their normally glamourous selves. And the prospect of luck and love for the new year isn’t just the preserve of the girls either. Men and even bambini get into the act too.
5. Lenticchie con cotechino (Lentils with pig’s trotter) is a big capodanno tradition all over Italy. I have a feeling this year there will be an absolute run on lentils leading up to the cenone (the classic big last dinner of the year). With the year they’ve had the Italians need all the prosperity they can get. The tradition I back to times when people gave each other coin purses full of lentils in the hope they would transform into gold coins. Buon appetito!
6. Italians are superstitious at the best of times and at new year ancora di piu’. At Capodanno, superstition says to take note of the first person you meet on the street. If it’s a hunchback or an old person, you’re looking good for the year ahead. Meeting a priest or a child first up? Not such an auspicious start. Sempre secondo la tradizione. And like everything in Italy, regional variations abound. In Piemonte for instance, to see a white horse or a hay cart is another sign of good luck for the new year ahead.
7. You might have seen this next one in Italian films and wondered what was going on. Dipping your finger into a glass of spumante (strictly Italian) and dabbing yourself or another person behind the ear is a classic Italian gesture of good luck for the new year. Cin cin!
PS. While I did know about most of these new year’s traditions already, my thanks go to the lovely people here for helping me filling in the gaps.