New Year’s in Italy

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One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to restart my blog. It has been sitting here online, completely neglected, yet taking my money as I’ve been paying my yearly domain and hosting dues. I feel like I worked too hard on it originally to close it down, but I work too hard in general to find time for writing posts. But really, that’s just an excuse. The reality is, I am intimidated by my own blog. I have a fear of writing and no one reading it, or worse, everyone hating it. So, while I accepted many writing assignments throughout the year from third parties, I denied my own creativity and creation. So, what better way to kick start this resolution and 2019 than with a post on New Year’s traditions in Tuscany? Here are some of my favorites from the region and country I call home.

Tradition #1: Red undergarments

Wearing red panties or bra on New Year’s eve is said to bring goodluck. In a pinch, if you don’t have those handy, just anything red, somewhere on your body will do. Also, on New Year’s you might notice a red table cloth or red napkins too is part of the “red” tradition.

Tradition #2: Fish for dinner

On NYE it’s common to eat fish for dinner. This “cenone” or big dinner however, varies a lot region to region. Some regions prefer meat or pasta, but pretty much everywhere you can find the following dish…

Tradition #3: New Year’s Day: Cotechino or Zampone with Lenticchie

This one is a favorite of my in-laws here in Tuscany. “Ogni lenticchia mangiata porta mille Lire, quante più se ne mangiano a capodanno, tanti più soldi si guadagneranno durante l’anno.” This saying, was repeated every year to my fiance when he was a boy. It means that every lentil eaten brings 1000 Lira, and the more you eat on New Year’s Day, the more money you will earn during the year. He smiles everytime he remembers this scene as it was pretty much the only way to get him to eat his beans/veggies as a child and he would carefully count all the lentils consumed to know how much money he would hypothetically be getting throughout the year.

To go with the lentils, cotechino or zampone, both ham dishes, are served. Cotechino is sort of like round spam and zampone is a pigs foot, stuffed with ham and spices. Of the two, I prefer contechino as it is less “wild” tasting (and it’s not a foot…so that helps). Both are rich, fatty dishes that bring prosperity for the new year.  

Tradition #4: Uva – Grapes

My mother-in-law’s family used to take grapes during the harvest time (fall) and leave them to dry in the attic not to be touched until the New Year. By then, they were more like raisins and enjoyed for their sweetness. There is also an Italian saying, “chi mangia l’uva per Capodanno conta i quattrini tutto l’anno” which translates to, “who eats grapes for New Year’s, counts money all year!”

Tradition #5: Melograno – Pomegranate

Last but not least, this red (good luck) and tasty fruit is served to bring prosperity. The individual bits of the pomegranate are round like money and can be used as a topping on other dishes or eaten separately.

These are just a few of the many traditions in Italy, but always my favorites. Do you follow any other Italian New Year’s traditions?

8 Comments

  1. Dear Rachel,
    Please write! I, for one, will read your blog!
    Thanks for the Capodanno tidbits! I love all things Italian… and it’s fun to hear anything and everything about my favorite country!

    • Ciao Kathy,
      Thank you for the kind words of encouragement! I will do it! 🙂 I am glad you liked my first post of 2019. Stay tuned, more to come! 🙂 Un abbraccio e buon anno!

  2. Happy New Year! Love hearing more about the traditions and childhood stories. 🙂

  3. Glad you are back! Your posts always make me want to return to Italy. Buon anno!

  4. Barbara Hollowell

    Cara Rachel,
    Not to worry even a tiny bit — your stories and insights will be followed and greatly enjoyed, all year ‘round!! I really “heard” the struggle to resolve to re-start; you’ve inspired me to tackle several of my desired Italian language re-starts!! BUON ANNO a te!!!🥂🎉

    • Aw, thank you Barbara!! I am happy to hear from you and thank you so much for the kind words! Buon anno and I hope to see you in Florence!

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