This year if you’re lucky enough to be celebrating New Years in Italy, you’re definitely among the lucky ones! But what can you expect from the Italian New Year’s celebration? In some respects, it’s not too much different than what you’d think you’d see as we bring in 2012, but there are a few notable differences.
It’s Still Christmas
Since Italians celebrate gift exchanges on the 6th of January or Epiphany, there is still a lot of Christmas spirit around in the towns. You’ll be able to enjoy the holidays right up through New Years and beyond rather than just watching the decorations come down just before the big night. Enjoy the whole day as you gather presents and then get ready to celebrate in the evening.
New Year’s Dinner
In Italy, pork symbolizes the richness of the coming year – in life and fortunes, not just monetarily. So expect to be eating some sort of pork dish on this big day of the year. In many homes and resteraunts you may find cotechino, or a large spicy sausage. In others you may find an even more authentic dish called a zampone, or a stuffed pig’s snout. If you’re more of a sausage eater rather than a snout one, be sure to check what’s in the dish before you dig in.
Public Dancing and Fireworks
Most of the towns and cities have their own firework displays for the New Year, but even better than the midnight fireworks, the Italians love to dance and they often have public dancing and festivities for hours leading up to the firework displays. You may find a bonfire in some of the smaller towns while larger cities will have full scale concerts and multiple street parties.
Champagne isn’t to be had in Italy. Instead, you’ll drink (the similar) sparkling wines as you ring in the New Year. Sip your spumante or prosecco, the Italian sparkling wines as you celebrate and enjoy an authentic drink in the country that created it. You may even decide to take a case home with you when you leave.
Finally, if you’re in the south of Italy, be aware that many families still follow old customs. They chunk old things out of the window around midnight to “clean” and be ready for the New Year. This means you’ll need to watch your head and watch your step if you plan to walk around the cities. And be ready to stay up all night – most Italians wait to watch the sun rising over the first day of the new year.