Italians are known for being quite superstitious. The night of San Silvestro (New Year’s Eve) offers the perfect occasion to perform some traditional rites that are meant to bring about good fortune.
Eat lentils and grapes
Eating lentils at midnight brings good luck. This custom has different origins. According to some, these legumes symbolize longevity because they are long-lasting. For others, lentils are a symbol of prosperity because they resemble ancient gold coins. Another thing you should do when midnight strikes, is to eat 12 grapes or 12 raisins (one for each month of the new year), to bring you luck. If you are accompanied by your partner, share a pomegranate on the night of San Silvestro, because this fruit symbolizes loyalty and fertility.
Wear red undergarments
On New Year’s Eve, you’re supposed to wear something red (usually underwear) because this will fend off negativity and will help you with happiness and love. The origins of this tradition are unclear, but some believe that it dates back to the ancient Romans, who would use red clothes to fend off war and blood. But for this superstition to work, your red underwear must be new and a gift from someone else. If you buy your own or wear some old red lingerie, you are cheating!
Throw old things from the window
This custom is still alive in different parts of Italy, including large cities like Naples and Rome. At midnight, some Italians throw out the window old things (usually crockery). This ritual symbolizes that you let go of what is useless and that you get rid of evil (physical and moral) accumulated during the year, to make room for a fresh start.
Kiss under a mistletoe
Although this is something that is mostly done on Christmas day, repeating the kiss on New Year’s Eve won’t do any harm. The mistletoe is a symbol of protection and love, so the kiss is meant to drive away evil spirits and help a couple. The ancient pagan origins can be traced back to the Druids, and this tradition is present in other countries too.
The first person you meet on the street after midnight …
Curious to know if the new year will be mostly positive or so-so? One of the most ancient customs in Italy is to observe the first person that you meet on the street on Capodanno (New Year’s Day). If it is an old person or (even better) a hunchback, the new year will be full of great surprises. If you meet a baby, a priest or a doctor – according to tradition there might be some bad luck around the corner. The reasons behind this superstition are not clear.
What about you?
What traditions or superstitions do you have in your country? Have we missed any Italian facts that you would like to add? Comment below.