Red pants, smashed plates and bingo: Six reasons Italian New Year is awesome


Red pants, smashed plates and bingo: Six reasons Italian New Year is awesome
Fireworks in Venice. Photo: msavoia/Depositphotos
By:Catherine Edwards/ The Local
The Italians have a reputation for being a superstitious bunch, and some of their New Year customs can startle the uninitiated foreigner. From the correct underwear to smashing crockery, The Local looks at the stories behind Italy’s strangest New Year traditions.

 

They wear red underwear for the occasion


Photo: nito103/DepositPhotos

Whether you’ve got a date for your New Year’s Eve party or not, you need to put some extra thought into your undergarments. Red underwear will apparently help to fend off evil spirits and negativity, bringing you happiness in the coming year.

A study carried out by the Italian drinks company San Pellegrino revealed that 60 percent of Italians think the custom is linked to fertility or good luck in your sexual endeavors, but it is actually much more general. The color red has been used for centuries to ward off war and other disasters. You might even see red underwear hanging in the streets or shop windows during the lead-up to New Year.

However, it’s traditional that your capodanno underwear should be new and a gift from someone else, so no digging out a tattered pair of red pants, and if you buy your own, you’re cheating.

The food: lentils, sausage and grapes


Photo: aizram18/DepositPhotos

This is Italy, so food is of paramount importance, and although the traditional New Year’s menu might seem like a random selection of foodstuffs, it’s actually carefully thought through.

Lentils symbolize wealth and prosperity – either because their round, flat shape and golden brown color means they resemble gold coins, or because they are long-lasting and so represent longevity.

Then you’ve got the sausage meat, replaced in some parts of Italy by stuffed pig’s trotters, which again means good fortune for the coming year, because it is a rich food symbolizing abundance.

But don’t forget to finish your meal with grapes. These ensure you will be frugal with your new-found wealth, because it was thought that only someone with excellent willpower could save the grapes from the spring harvest time until the New Year meal.

They spend the evening playing bingo


Photo: soniacri/DepositPhotos

In many parts of the world, card games and bingo are associated more with pensioners than trendy parties, but at many Italian New Year’s Eve parties everyone settles around the table for a game of ‘tombola’ – similar to bingo.

Tombola was created in Naples in the 1700s as an alternative to gambling, which the church did not approve of. King Charles of Naples made a concession to the Catholics and said he would ban gambling during the Christmas period only. But Neopolitans found a way to get around the new law by playing tombola at home during the holidays.

They party until sunrise


Photo: arkade/DepositPhotos

Italians don’t do things by halves, and though you may be used to New Year celebrations fizzling out shortly after midnight, be prepared to keep the party going until the early morning. In Italy the celebrations usually last until at least sunrise, so that you can see the new year arrive.

They throw things 


Photo: victoriagam/DepositPhotos

Watch out for falling objects – in some southern parts of the country, it’s traditional to throw possessions, particularly crockery, out of your window to show that you are ready for a new start in the new year.

If you’d rather that new start didn’t involve arguments with the neighbours about why you chucked a plate at their head in the middle of the night, an alternative tradition is crashing pots and pans together at your front door, to frighten away evil spirits (see below).

They love a big bang (with a purpose)


Photo: maforche/DepositPhotos

True, this New Year custom isn’t unique to Italy, but while other nationalities may simply enjoy the bright colours, Italians have a different reason for setting off fireworks.

According to superstition, demons and bad spirits don’t like loud noises, so this a way to ensure they’re all scared off before the new year begins. Some people even say the pop of champagne corks is the reason prosecco or spumante are favoured over normal wines – well, it’s as good an excuse as any for a glass of fizz.

You’ll have your future mapped out (so avoid babies, doctors and priests)


Photo: shippee/DepositPhotos

Superstition dictates that the first person you meet after midnight on New Year will dictate how the rest of the year plays out. If you see someone older of the opposite sex first, congratulations, you’re going to have a great 2017(it’s a sign that you will live a long life and be lucky in love this year).

If it’s a baby or someone of the same sex, your year hasn’t got off to the best start. Variations on this legend state doctors are a bad omen too, because it’s a sign your health will deteriorate, while others say you should be wary of seeing a priest or a postman, though the reasons behind this aren’t clear.

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Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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