As 2010 winds down, folks will be celebrating the arrival of 2011 in a variety of ways. Earlier in December, I was at a lecture about Italian Holiday Traditions at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side featuring Francine Segan. Listening to her speak brought me back to some wonderful times that I’d spent ringing in the new year with friends overseas.
As she explained, many of these traditions feature specific food items, and, as with most things in Italy, also have regional variations. In Bologna, a typical dish is a pile of lentils (to symbolize money) topped with slices of zampone (a stuffed pig’s trotter) or cotechino (a sausage variety), and garnished with potato purée. Eating this meal on New Year’s Eve (capodanno), in addition to wearing red undergarments that evening and/or the first day of January, is supposed to bring good luck and fortune in the coming year.