Our Newsletter

Italian New Year’s Eve Traditions

Posted on December 28th, 2023

by Adriana ruiz

In Italy, there are truly many traditions linked to the arrival of the new year. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular ones that make New Year’s Eve unique in the Beautiful Country!

1. La Festa di San Silvestro:

New Year’s Eve in Italy is also widely known as “La Festa di San Silvestro” (The Feast of Saint Sylvester). Families and friends come together for a grand feast, referred to as the “Cenone di Capodanno” (New Year’s Eve Feast), featuring a sumptuous array of dishes. This celebration adds a special touch to the evening, heightening the sense of anticipation and excitement.

The “Cenone di Capodanno” in Italy is characterized by a lavish and diverse spread of dishes. While specific dishes may vary depending on regional traditions and personal preferences, some common elements of the feast include:

– Lentils: Lentils are a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Italian New Year’s Eve traditions. Their round shape is believed to resemble coins, representing wealth and abundance.

– Cotechino e Lenticchie: This traditional dish features a type of pork sausage called Cotechino served with lentils. It is a classic combination believed to bring good fortune and financial success for the coming year.

– Panettone: A sweet bread loaf originating from Milan, Panettone is a quintessential dessert during the holiday season. It is often enjoyed during the Cenone di Capodanno, symbolizing unity and good fortune.

– Zampone: Similar to Cotechino, Zampone is a stuffed pig’s trotter. It is another popular dish served during New Year’s Eve celebrations, particularly in northern regions of Italy.

– Seafood: In coastal areas, seafood dishes are prevalent in the Cenone di Capodanno. Shellfish, fish, and other seafood delicacies are enjoyed, symbolizing abundance and prosperity from the sea.

– Tortellini in Brodo: In some regions, particularly in northern Italy, families may start their New Year’s Eve feast with Tortellini in Brodo, which is small pasta filled with meat or cheese served in a flavorful broth.

– Pandoro: Another sweet bread alternative to Panettone, Pandoro is popular in the northern regions of Italy, especially in Verona and the Veneto region. It is often dusted with powdered sugar, resembling the snowy landscape of winter.

– Prosecco and Sparkling Wines: A celebratory toast with Prosecco or other sparkling wines is an integral part of the Cenone di Capodanno, marking the transition to the new year with joy and festivity.

These are just a few examples, and the actual menu can vary based on local traditions and personal preferences.

2. Fireworks Illumination:

As the clock approaches midnight on New Year’s Eve in Italy, the sky lights up with a breathtaking fireworks show. The widespread tradition of celebrating with fireworks creates a spectacular display, welcoming the new year. Despite occasional bursts heard even a week before December 31st, some cities have opted to ban fireworks, recognizing environmental concerns and their impact on animals.

3. The Red Wardrobe:

On New Year’s Eve, the color red takes center stage, symbolizing luck, prosperity, and fertility. Italians customarily don red attire, often choosing intimate apparel, to attract positive energies. Enhancing this auspicious theme, many also adorn their nails with vibrant red nail polish.

4. Midnight Feasts of Fortune:

The stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve marks a moment of symbolic feasting for Italians. Consuming lentils and grapes is a cherished tradition believed to bring luck and prosperity for the upcoming year. Each lentil represents financial fortune, while every grape eaten signifies good fortune and wealth.

5. New Year’s Wishes and Kisses:

The magic of New Year’s Eve unfolds with heartfelt wishes exchanged at the stroke of midnight. A tender kiss on the cheek, shared with someone of the opposite sex, is a tradition symbolizing luck and fostering positive beginnings and connections.

6. Discarding the Old:

In various regions of Italy, it’s common to bid farewell to the past by discarding old objects. This symbolic act represents leaving behind the old and embracing the future with optimism, expecting the best from the new year.

7. Outdoor Activities:

In some regions, the brave partake in the “polar bear plunge” or “Nuoto di Capodanno,” a tradition involving a refreshing dip in icy waters. This invigorating act is believed to cleanse the body and spirit, symbolizing a fresh start to the new year.


As Italy welcomes the new year, these traditions, including the unique celebration of La Festa di San Silvestro and invigorating outdoor activities, weave a vibrant tapestry of culture, symbolism, and shared joy, making Capodanno a truly special and unforgettable celebration.


Read more about: 

A Guide to New Year’s Eve and the First Week of January 2024 in Rome

Epiphany Festival at Piazza Navona, featuring Activities for Children

Free exhibitions across a series of civic museums in Rome on January 1, 2024

Free entry to museums and archaeological sites in Italy on the first Sunday of each month

15 Must-Visit Museums, Galleries, and Cultural Sites in Italy

Enjoy the holiday season with a visit to Rome’s ice skating rinks

Visit the exhibition of ‘100 Nativity Scenes in the Vatican’ for FREE


Don’t forget to check out our Social Media accounts and Subscribe to our Newsletter so you can be updated with information customized for people who want to move, live, and love Italy! Also, check out these unique tours in Rome.

FAQs for Italian Citizenship by Marriage (2023)
Understanding the Tessera Sanitaria: Your Italian Health Insurance Card
Non-Married Partners: How to Obtain a Residence Permit in Italy as De Facto Cohabitants
How to get tax identification number for foreign citizens (Codice Fiscale)
How to register in Italy as an EU citizen
Mastering Public Transport in Italy
The Advantages of Dual Citizenship with an Italian Passport: Unlocking Boundless Opportunities
What you need to know about Visas and Permits to stay in Italy

Leave a Comment:

Contact info

Roma Italy