The Prevalence of Luck in Italy's New Year

Anno nuovo, vita nuova. Per salutare l’anno vecchio che se ne va il 31 dicembre e festeggiare 12 nuovi mesi che arrivano, gli italiani ricorrono a tradizioni, piccoli gesti e riti scaramantici che strizzano l’occhio alla fortuna. A tavola, per esempio sono immancabili le lenticchie, simbolo di abbondanza e denaro per via della forma simile ai soldi: mangiarne significa quindi un anno pieno di gratificazioni economiche. Per allontanare gli spiriti maligni dalla propria abitazione, si deve aprire la finestra di una stanza buia poco prima della mezzanotte. Il melograno è simbolo di fedeltà e fecondità e mangiarlo nell’ultima notte dell’anno augura devozione e prosperità. Il colore rosso si ritrova anche nell’usanza di indossare biancheria intima di questo colore per avere amore e fortuna. Un’altra usanza ormai quasi scomparsa perché pericolosa è quella di gettare dalla finestra delle cose vecchie e rotte come simbolo di abbandono dell’inutile per un inizio migliore. Superstiziosi o no... Buon Anno Nuovo a tutti!

As the New Year begins, countries around the world start yearly traditions and customs all over again. Whether local or national, each area has their own celebrations that personalize the passing days while honoring holidays and occurrences that are cherished throughout the years. Italy is a unique country. It is a country with innumerable things to celebrate during the 12 months of the year. Interestingly enough, the start of the New Year marks the start of many long-time celebrated traditions that are believed to bring good luck to those partaking in the activities.

Luck is an important element in Italian culture. While the holiday is celebrated with fireworks, food and festivals, as with most countries, the importance of good luck is a strong theme on this day. During the celebration of the New Year, or Capodanno, Italians alike often involve themselves in several traditions that are supposedly used to bring luck for the next year.

Numerous traditions are intertwined with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Some are simple, like eating sausage before midnight, but other events are much more involved and require a passion and dedication to old Italian customs.

An interesting action that most Italians take to ensure luck in the coming year includes the throwing of pots and pans out of a window. Clothes may be thrown out as well. This activity symbolizes the will to let go of the past while bravely moving into the New Year. Bad luck is thrown out with the old pots, pans and clothing. Unhappiness is released with these old objects and new, lucky objects take their place. Old mugs and plates may also be discarded and smashed.

The acquiring of luck is not all about smashing. Another luck-bringing tradition includes wearing red underwear. Both men and women purchase this symbolic clothing after Christmas, but it must be bought for a friend or family member, not for themselves. Once the garment is gifted, it is worn on New Year’s Eve. The color red is said to fight off negativity and bad luck. If a couple is trying to conceive in the New Year, they may also use the red color to symbolize fertility.

Another luck-inducing habit includes eating lentils on New Year’s Eve. If eaten at midnight, they are said to bring good luck. Lentils are often seen as a symbol of health due to their nutritious and healthy content. This food is eaten globally by a multitude of cultures and its delicious benefits are quite well-known. It can be cooked, baked and more and Italians have taken notice of its lucky nature. From health-benefits to its supposed weight-loss assistance, these legumes are enjoyed almost everywhere.

Lastly, Italians may open their doors wide during the cold winter season to welcome good spirits and good luck into their homes. Bad spirits are said to be swept away by the cold draft, which takes them out of one’s home and far away.

The country of Italy is big and diverse, so while some traditions may be celebrated in some areas, others may partake in something different elsewhere. With such a large community, there are sure to be many different traditions for the bringing of luck throughout the variety of cities. No matter what custom is or isn’t celebrated, there is sure to be meaning behind each custom celebrated by each family.