With New Year’s right around the corner, in Italy that means the street markets and shops will be selling lots of red underwear. Here is a photo to help you get a feel for what I am talking about.
Now, you might be curious to know why red undies are in such display this time of year. It is a New Year’s tradition to wear red underwear in Italy, just like in America we have New Year’s resolutions – you know – where you vow to lose 20 pounds, or stop smoking or plan to start exercising, etc…
As always, I am comparing the two countries:
American New Year’s tradition: reach a difficult goal. Italian New Year’s tradition: wear red underwear. Ha, ha, ha, ha….AGAIN, sometimes those Italians seem to be having so much more fun than us! Gosh…lose 20 pounds or wear red underwear?!?! Tough choice!
Now, although there is the goal/underwear difference, the two countries share a few New Year’s traditions. Italians eat lentils to ensure wealth in the coming year, just as we eat black-eyed peas.
There are other traditions in Italy as well, such as eating pork and throwing old kitchen items out your window and onto the street. This is an old custom not used so much anymore. Supposedly by doing this, you free yourself of any negativity.
If you never saw the touching movie, “Cinema Paradiso” the rejected protagonist vows to wait for the love of his life. He literally waits every night under her window for months, and nothing could keep him away: not the wind, not the rain, not the cold. It is only when his love closes the shutters in his face that he leaves. There he is: walking home all defeated with glasses and dishes being thrown from the windows of her neighbors. Poor guy. This scene will give you a perfect idea of this New Year’s tradition. Here it is below:
Anyway, after having a good laugh about the resolutions and undies and feeling sorry for the guy in “Cinema Paradiso”, I got a little curious about how other countries celebrate the new year. So I asked some friends who live in other countries and did a little research as well. Here is a small sampling of how others welcome the New Year:
In Denmark, friends throw dishes at your doorstep. (Much safer than out your window). So when you leave the house on New Year’s day, the more broken dishes you have at your doorstep, the more friends you apparently have. I would be so sad to wake up to a dish free doorway!
In Chile, they have several traditions. One is to go walking around neighborhood with your suitcase. This will ensure lots of fun travel in the coming year.
Similar to the Italians, they like colorful undies. In Chile, the color is yellow. If you want happiness and a positive year, then you must wear your yellow undies inside out, to be put on properly after the stroke of midnight.
Again, similar to the Italians, eating Lentils at midnight will bring you lots of money in the next year.
Again similar with the old Italian tradition, the South Africans throw things out of their window, but they are a little more ambitious and throw out appliances and even furniture. Televisions are a favorite.
A friend told me they eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight – similar to the Spanish tradition. But I also read they go swimming at midnight and also shred outdated documents and throw them out of their windows as a way of leaving the past behind.
I read about so many traditions and loved how many are similar from country to country. Grapes, lentils, undies, dishes, suitcases, pork all seem to be common. What are the New Year’s traditions in your country? Please share some thoughts below.
In the meantime, wishing everyone a fabulous and safe New Year!