[Exciting] Italian New Year Traditions

New Year’s Day in Italy

New Year’s celebrations happen globally. However, the Italian New Year traditions are unique. In Italy, the New Year’s holiday is full of tradition. Apart from unmatched Italian New Year’s food traditions, many other fun things define New Year’s celebrations in Italy.

If you are not acquainted with these traditions, you are in the right place. In this festive piece, you will discover more about this rich tradition and why they do the things they do. Let’s dig in! Shall we?

Italian New Year’s Food Traditions

An Italian celebration is not complete without an Italian delicacy. For instance, an Italian saying claims that those who eat grapes on New Year will handle money throughout the year (Capodanno, maneggia I Quattrini tutto l’anno).

The popular saying comes from the notion that those wise enough to spare some grapes from the fall harvest are probably also prudent and smart with money. So what are the notable Italian New Year’s food traditions?

new year dinner


Rice grains typically expand and grow as they boil. It symbolizes richness and fortune in many cultures. As a result, it is usual throughout northern Italy, particularly Piedmont, Friuli, and Lombardy, to offer risotto as the first dish on New Year’s Eve to inspire success throughout the New Year.


Many cultures around the world consider lentils to be lucky. For example, Italian tradition believes that their round and flattened shapes resemble coins that match a penny.

In this regard, Italians believe that the more you eat, the more money you will handle. So they usually eat it at the stroke of midnight with Zampone or Cotechino as accompaniments. It is one of the most famous Italian New Year Eve traditions.   


In Southern Italy, particularly Naples, Cenone di Capodanno (New Year’s Eve Dinner) is similar to the Christmas Eve dinner. They usually serve a menu comprising several fish courses. A typical cenone might begin with a seafood appetizer of shrimp and oysters.

After that, you can have a primo of spaghetti and clam sauce. Then a second has whole fish (oven-baked), which comes with a traditional dish of marinated vegetables.  They refer to it as l’insalata di rinforzo or reinforcement salad.


Many cultures believe that pigs symbolize prosperity for the New Year. It is because their snouts root in a forward direction at all times, and their meat is rich in fat. Cotechino, a huge spicy sausage cooked over very low heat, is very popular in Italy. When the Cotechino is ready, it is served and sliced into rounds.

Zampone is also a popular meal. You create this unique sausage by stuffing a mixture of seasoned ground pork into a boned pig’s foot as an alternative to the usual sausage casing. This delicacy started when butchers wanted not to waste pig parts. The artistry and specific spices allowed them to turn the less valued parts into cherished holiday gastronomic creations.


You will also find traditional holiday cakes such as Pandoro and Panettone during New Year’s in Italy. According to Italian tradition, you should eat seven dried fruits and nuts during New Year’s Eve in Italy for good luck.

The nuts include almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, raisins, dates, walnuts, and dried figs. Besides that, others eat pomegranate because its countless seeds suggest wealth and fertility. This tradition has been there since ancient Roman times.


Struffoli is another popular holiday dessert. They are dough balls the size of marbles usually dipped in honey, piled into a bundle, and covered with decorated sugar and candied fruit. The Italians believe it symbolizes abundance and money.   


Other Fun Things for Italian New Years

Banishing Past Bad Luck the Italian Way

This practice is common, especially in Southern Italy. They throw old pots, pans, appliances, clothes, and furniture out of the window during their New Year’s Eve celebrations. They believe this symbolizes letting go of the past disappointments and preparing for the greatness that lies in the future. 

Most Italians have abandoned this tradition but, watch your head as you walk the streets of Naples.  

Wear Red Underwear on New Year’s Eve to Ring In Luck!

You heard that right! If you are wondering, where is it considered good luck to wear red underwear on New Year’s Day? Well, in Italy, in the run-up to December 31st, all the stores and stands in Italy seem to be advertising red undies.

But why, you may ask. It is because; Italians believe that when they wear red underwear on New Year’s Day, it brings fortune in the new year! But, for it to be truly lucky, you should only wear it on New Year’s Eve. Additionally, if you want to practice the older version of this Italian tradition, you could throw your red underwear out the next day.

Pop Fine Italian Wine

At the stroke of midnight, you better have a glass of sparkling wine in hand. Instead, consider getting a bottle of fine Italian wine like Prosecco to enter the New Year Italian style. Moreover, like in many other places globally, it is customary to seal the Italian New Year countdown with a kiss to wish your friends and loved ones the best in the New Year.

a glass of sparkling wine

Watch the Magnificent Fireworks Display

Nowadays, every country competes with the other for having the most magnificent fireworks display. In this regard, Italy is no exception. When the clock strikes 12, cities and towns burst into celebratory explosions that light up their skies. In Italy, Amalfi Coast and Naples are popular for their inspiring New Year’s fireworks.

Go Out With Money in Your Pocket

After staying up until midnight, you can leave the house. But, Italian tradition dictates that you ensure you have some money as you leave your home. This Italian New Year’s practice is based on the superstition that you will have some money to spend throughout the year when you leave your house with cash in your pocket on the first day of the year.

Have a Mammoth Cena

Most holidays usually revolve around food in Italy, including New Year’s celebrations. In Italy, it is customary for families and friends to sit together and share a huge meal or cenone if you like. There are numerous New Year Italian recipes you can consider.

If you don’t feel like cooking, you can go out for a meal. You will find many restaurants offering traditional Italian New Year’s Eve meals. And yes, expect to see a festive atmosphere befitting the prevailing season. As mentioned earlier, you will probably find lentils somewhere in your meal.

Give Treats

The ancient Roman tradition involved giving each other jars of dates and figs in honey and a bay branch for luck. They also believed that this helped to make the New Year Sweet. This tradition has not changed much, especially in Naples, where you will find people exchanging figs enveloped in laurel leaves.

Fire Up the Christmas Log

Firing up the ol’ Yule Log one last time is a popular Italian New Year tradition. The Italians believe that evil spirits are afraid of fire! The Italians also believe that the gesture invites the Virgin Mary to come and warm the newborn baby Jesus next to the warm flames. After that, the tradition states that families use the ashes as charms to protect their houses from harm.   

Celebrating New Year’s Italian Style

Your New Year’s celebrations will never be the same again. You can learn a lot from the Italian New Year traditions. Additionally, you have understood why they eat the meals they eat and do the things they do. The bottom line is that everyone wishes to have a better year than the previous one. So, whatever you do, ensure you have a great year ahead!

Boun Capodanno!