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Almost every country and culture celebrates New Year, and Italy is no different, with many Italians continuing to hold on to traditional customs, which promise to bring wealth and banish bad luck.
Just after Christmas, shop windows will be awash with red undergarments; both men and women wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve to bring luck in the coming year; red is also the color of fertility and those hoping to conceive in the following year also wear red.
Dinner is also steeped in tradition, with the New Year dinner historically being zampone e lenticchie (pig’s trotter and lentils); 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 symbolizes 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. The dinner is finished off with dried fruit and grapes. It is said to take great willpower to conserve some grapes from the harvest until New Year’s Eve, this indicates that everyone at the table will be wise and frugal with their newfound wealth.
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