Italian Food Traditions for New Year’s Eve

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As with most festivals in Italy, food plays a major part in celebrations to mark the new year. New Year’s Eve, known as Festa di San Silvestro, Capodanno or Vigilia, is celebrated by friends and family getting together for a feast. Certain foods are used every year to symbolise the hopes for what is to come.

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Known as lenticchie in Italian, lentils are traditionally associated with good fortune and prosperity in a new year, as reported by Italy magazine. The distinctive coin-shaped pulses are often served with cotechino, a sausage or a pig’s trotter.

Cotechino and Zampone

Cotechino is a large sausage of pork rind, meat, fat and spices. It is originally from the Emilia-Romagna region and specifically the town of Modena. Also linked with prosperity for the new year because it is so fatty and rich, pork is the classic companion to lentils. Cotechino is usually purchased either partially cooked or raw, and it will be cooked and then served in slices. An alternative is zampone, which is a pig’s trotter hollowed and then stuffed with a similar mix to the cotechino. It is also traditionally served with lentils after being simmered and sliced.

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Certain areas of Italy, namely Piemonte and Friuli, associate grains of rice with coins. The cooking of a risotto represents the way you’d like your wealth to grow in the coming year. Even if you’re not in Italy, it is possible to try their traditional cooking at your local Dublin Italian restaurant, such as


The small stuffed pasta parcels known as tortellini or cappelletti are often eaten in the Emilia-Romagna region as part of the celebrations. Capodanno, one of the Italian names for New Year festivities, means ‘head of the year’ and cappelletti are ‘little hats’. They are traditionally served in a rich broth.


This Sicilian pizza is an integral part of the New Year feast in Sicily. The rectangular thick-crust pizza with onion, breadcrumbs and caciocavallo cheese can be part of a sit-down meal or sliced up as a perfect canapé for more of a casual gathering.


Traditional in Venice for New Year’s Eve, the buttery and sweet veneziana cake is similar to the Veronese pandoro and Milanese panettone but with no candied fruit – instead, it’s topped with almonds and crunchy sugar.

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