New Year’s Eve in Italy Is Rich With Lasting — and Eccentric — Traditions

New Year's Eve traditions and menus, passed down from the generations, are rich with symbolism.

The following article, written by Diane De Filipi, appears on

Italy is a country rich with rituals. Customs and beliefs have been handed down generation to generation for centuries.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve, the celebration and menus are abundant with symbolism.

Italians believe in letting go of the old year and moving toward the future. One gesture of letting go of the past is throwing away old things. Old clothes, pieces of furniture and even pots and pans are discarded. Look out below, because those who still honor this tradition toss these items out of the window into the streets.

In southern Italy especially, it’s “out with the old and in with the new” in an effort to drive away bad luck. Had a bad year? Want to rid yourself of the unhappiness? Grab something you no longer want and toss it out the window. If you live on an upper floor, you may want to warn your neighbors to grab a helmet.

In parts of northern Italy, where my family comes from, the custom for banishing bad luck involves shattering tableware outdoors, in front of your home. I’ve never done it, but thinking it might feel kinda good. I can spare a dish or two.

Another ritual to keep bad omens away in the coming year is the Yule Log. Evidently bad omens don’t like fire, so the log is burned on the final day of the year. The ashes are kept in the fireplace to protect the home. It’s also believed that the warmth of the fire is an invitation for the Virgin Mary to warm baby Jesus.

Italians are passionate about fireworks. When the year ends and another is ushered in the Italian skies light up with color and big bangs. From little villages to the largest of cities, it’s an exciting revelry. The farther south you travel in Italy the more elaborate the display. Continue reading at Napa Valley Register. 

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