This year I am lucky enough that I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in Milan. I have visited Milan before, but only during the summer, and I’d have to say it ranks highly as one of my favourite destinations in Italy.
It’s a city made up of streets and neighbourhoods that each retain their own individuality even as part of a whole. There is the busy, tourist heavy area around the Duomo where you can check out the cathedral and high end shopping in La Rinascente. There’s also the castle and its grounds just a short walk away, and well worth a visit. Hop on the underground and you can head out to the ultra-modern Garibaldi area, or discover some rustic charm and grab a coffee by the canal in Naviglio.
I’ll be looking forward to spending some time in Milan again soon, but it means I will be missing the traditional Scottish Hogmany celebrations for the first time in my life. What will New Year’s in Italy be like? I imagine there will be street parties, but it’s unlikely they’ll have bagpipers, Jools Holland or Jackie Bird on their TVs.
In preparation for my trip, I’ve taken a look at some New Year’s traditions in Italy. Like many countries around the world Italian customs at New Year’s are all about bringing you wealth and prosperity for the year ahead while banishing bad luck. Check them out below and let me know how you’ll be bringing in the New Year on the 31st.
Just after Christmas, shop windows are awash with red undergarments; both men and women in Italy wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve to bring luck in the coming year. Red is also the colour of fertility and those hoping to conceive in the following year also wear red.
Who doesn’t love a good dinner? New Year dinner in Italy is steeped in tradition. Historically it consists of eating zampone e lenticchie (pig’s trotter and lentils), and many supermarkets begin selling pre-packed trotters from mid-November.
A variation on this, and more popular with the younger generation, is cotechino e lenticchie, a sausage that contains the meat of the trotter. Italian folklore suggests that eating sausage before midnight is a good omen for the New Year; sausage made with pig’s trotters contains a high fat content and this symbolises abundance and, when eaten alongside the lentils, which are believed to bring good luck and prosperity, the diner’s financial forecast for the forthcoming year is predicted to be better than the previous.
Old Pots and Pans
Better watch out if you’re walking down any narrow Italian streets this New Year’s, as to banish previous bad luck, there’s an attitude of out with the old and in with the new; however, this practice can be rather extreme, as old pots and pans, clothes or any old and unwanted items are thrown from upstairs windows.
The act is seen to symbolise letting go of unhappiness in preparation for the future. But it just sounds like an excuse to make some wardrobe space in time for the January sales to me.
In the summer, the night skies in Italy are ablaze with them as almost every town and village has dramatic displays at the conclusion of their festa, and New Year’s Eve is no different, so, like almost every other country, the end of one year and beginning of another is celebrated with a riot of bangs and colours.