Translated by Alanna Quintyne
In today’s article called “New year’s Good Luck Charms”, I am going to tell you some lucky charms that Italians use on New Yeasr’s Eve to attract abundance and happiness. If you want to know more about these Italian traditions and beliefs keep reading the following lines and don’t forget to let me know if you have the same beliefs in your country or if you have different lucky charms! I can’t wait to read your comments! :)
Are Italians superstitious? Do they use good luck charms? Do they have rituals which they believe can drive away bad luck? I would say so, yes.
Since the new year is near, I would like to take the opportunity to tell you about some of the rituals and symbols considered as good luck and that, according to popular belief, should help us to have a great new year. Let’s have a look at them together:
Lentils and cotechino or zampone
Which Italian on the night of December 31st doesn’t eat lentils and cotechino? Well, only vegetarians and vegans, because lentils and cotechino – an Italian pork dish – is the meal par excellence, which should bring wealth and health respectively.
But why are they considered good luck charms and are eaten on this very day?
The tradition of lentils has an ancient origin and dates back to the Romans, who considered this legume extremely precious, so much so that they used to give a bag of them to friends and relatives a few days before the new year as a good omen.
Zampone – cooked pig’s foot – and cotechino on the other hand, date back to around 1500 when Pico della Mirandola suggested this to fellow citizens to slaughter all the pigs rather than leaving them in the hands of the enemies who were besieging the city. In order to preserve all of that meat these delicacies, cotechino and zampone, were born and are still eaten to this day.
Wearing something red
In Italy, on December 31st, you can’t help but wear something red. I have already mentioned this tradition in the article called New Year’s Eve in Italy, which I stated that whether you wear a dress, undergarments or just a small detail like a hair clip, a piece of jewelry or a bow tie, red is a must.
But why does red being worn on New Year’s Eve bring good luck? The tradition also has very ancient origins. In fact, before, in Roman times both women and men wore something red, a symbol of fertility.
Red combined with cotechino and lentils should therefore guarantee a super prosperous and productive year.
A kiss under the mistletoe
What do we do when midnight strikes? We give each other a kiss under the mistletoe, and we start a conga line!
This concept of a mistletoe is not only an Italian tradition, as it has its roots in an ancient Nordic legend. It says that this plant was used to build a weapon used to kill a boy. His mother cried in despair and her tears which fell on the mistletoe turned into berries and gave life to her son. That’s why even today the mistletoe is associated with rebirth, and is bestowed the power of good luck. That is also why in every home we hang a branch of mistletoe under which we exchange kisses and good wishes.
Throwing away old things
Here’s a distinctly southern tradition that I can’t help but talk about since I’m from Southern Italy. On New Year’s Eve we throw away old things! But which things? Everything: plates, glasses, but also larger things such as appliances.
I remember that as a child I always spent New Year’s Eve at home with my family, in order to also avoid the risk of being hit by objects that were thrown from windows and balconies.
This tradition has been gradually lost due to the economic crisis that has hit Italy in recent years and in this loss two different aspects can be identified. On the one hand, there is something positive: that is avoiding the recurrence of a sort of incivility that cannot be tolerated and trying to protect the environment by using the objects bought for as long as possible.
On the other hand, however, we must recognize the greatness of the principle behind throwing away old things, which means saying goodbye to everything old and antiquated that has accompanied us during the old year, including people, to break with a strenuous and exhausting past and open up to a bright future.
Every new year brings great expectations: the hope for a better future, the desire to forget situations and people who have made us suffer… And what’s wrong if we try to attract good luck by resorting to propitiatory rites and beliefs that should help us to achieve our goal?
With this question I leave you, wishing you a year full of serenity and satisfaction.
Happy New Year!
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