The New Year's Foods of Italy

Festive celebrations of the New Year include delicious foods and exciting traditions in Italian culture. Italians take the time to cook and prepare great amounts of food for their friends and family and these recipes are often from traditional sources. Some foods are even said to bring luck, prosperity and good fortune to those that enjoy them at the start of the New Year.

Lentils are a common legume eaten in Italy during festive times. It is said to bring luck to anyone who eats them on New Year’s Day.  They can be enjoyed separately or when added to another dish. Their health benefits are commonly emphasized as well. This ingredient is not only popular in Italy, but it also finds its ways in many other countries and international dishes.

Lentils may also be added to another popular Italian dish called zampone to create zampone e lenticchie. This dish consists of a pork trotter stuffed with spicy pork sausage which is then boiled, sliced and served. Lentils are added for that lucky New Year’s touch before being served and shared by hungry Italian families. Pre-made and pre-hollowed pig trotters are often sold at supermarkets across the nation.

Another popular Italian New Year’s dish is cotechino. It is a pork sausage dish made of fats and spices boiled for several hours. This dish is available both cooked and raw in local stores. It is then cooked with low heat throughout the day once it is brought home and prepared.

Food often symbolizes luck during this holiday. Raisins and lentils are small ingredients that are related to luck and health. Pork is often associated with prosperity and wealth due to its fattening properties. Eating sausage before midnight is another good luck charm rooted in Italian culture. Grapes and dried fruits show wisdom amongst those who eat them, as well. Rice may even represent coins and their growth while baking may symbolize the growing of one’s wealth.

Many traditions, customs, and festivals mark the beginning of the Italian New Year and food is another aspect of the holiday used to bring friends and families closer together while sharing traditional superstitions and ideas that enrich the holiday. No matter the home, any Italian family is sure to bring luck by celebrating these traditions together.