Sunday, December 17, 2006

Italian New Year’s Eve Traditions

Holidays are an important part of Italian culture. They are an occasion to bring families together and to learn about the antique traditions that are such an important part of who they are. To the question what is the most important holiday in Italy, responses about Christmas or Easter will be the most prevalent but I think the most widely celebrated and festive of all holidays is New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve in Italy is not rigorously in the family. Teenagers and Adults alike plan for months where they will celebrate the New Year.

The ways to celebrate the festive occasion are numerous. Most restaurants hold Cenoni, banquet style dinners with bands, dancing and entertainment. Winter destinations offer weeklong events with some type of midnight spectacular, Prosecco, Spumante or other sparkling wine. Fireworks explode on every street corner and rockets fly over the rooftops, exploding in an unorganized but impressive shower of color and light.

In many cities it is dangerous to be on the streets, not because of crime but because objects large and small rain down from the sky. It is the one time of the year when it is safer for pedestrians to walk in the middle of the street avoiding at all costs the sidewalks. Some traditions include carolers singing the praises of the year past and welcoming the newborn. Most traditions include specific activities that must be performed, working hard, not working at all, cleaning, eating lentils for wealth, are all parts of things that must be done to guarantee a prosperous new year.

Other regions extend the New Year’s celebrations. In Friuli the festivities last for 12 days while a ritual regarding the grain harvest is completed. Whether in Friuli, Abruzzo, Campania, Sicilia, Emilia Romagna or in the Alps at Courmayeur, the night is one of hearty meals, friends, fun and lots and lots of wine!


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