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Every place has its own sets of traditions, particularly when it comes to celebrating the holidays. The Romans are a good example. Having been around for centuries, those who've lived in the 'Eternal City' have preserved many practices over the years. Some are funny and fascinating while others are completely one-of-a-kind that you probably won't ever make any sense of them. But that's what makes them, them! Take New Year's Eve, for instance. The Romans have their own ways of ending the past year and starting the new year right. Here are some that you'd want to know about!
UPDATE: Due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, many of the events listed in this article have been canceled. Please be advised.
Marvel at The Fireworks Displays
As with any other city, the fireworks displays in Rome are truly a sight to see. They're even more amazing when you juxtapose them with many of the city's most famous monuments such as the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, and the like. When the clock strikes twelve, you can expect the 'Eternal City' to light up unlike any other, making for great shots to post on social media. Perhaps the best places to watch them are on Rome's many hills, such as Belvedere del Gianicolo and the Pincian Hill, among many others. There are already some Roman neighborhoods with viewing terraces on these very hills.
Source: Global News YouTube Channel
Set Off Firecrackers
If you thought Rome's fireworks displays are the only things that liven up the city on New Year's Eve, think again! The Italian capital is also known—somewhat notorious even—for allowing people to set off firecrackers and light up sparklers on the streets. The latter is one of the best ways to truly welcome the new year with a bang. In previous years, the city government has even tried to ban the use of firecrackers due to various accidents. But try as they might, the Romans still insist that these loud devices are part of their New Year's Eve traditions. Firecrackers set off left and right in Rome from December 31st up until the 6th of January, also known as 'Epiphany Day,' in the Italian holiday calendar.
Make a Wish at The Trevi Fountain
Although tossing a coin to make a wish at the Trevi Fountain is pretty touristy, even locals can't help but do it on New Year's Eve. On the night where a whole new year is about to start, it's only natural that people head to this world-famous monument and wish for as much prosperity and blessings as possible. In some years, the Trevi Fountain gets so crowded that there's no telling if your coins even get to the fountain when you toss it. And come New Year's Day, you can bet that the landmark will probably be the richest in all of Rome.
Watch an Opera
You'd think that New Year's Eve would be a night where theater would take a break, even in Rome, but that's not even the case. If you want to soak up as much classical culture as possible in this historic city, you can always go for a show on the night of December 31st. And not just any ordinary show, but an opera show! Various theaters throughout the Italian capital will continue on with their theatrical performances just as the new year starts. There are even special concerts held in the city that will also feature music from legendary composers such as Verdi, Puccini, Strauss, Rossini, and more.
As far as Italian food is concerned, the Romans are pretty particular about eating Lentils on New Year's Eve. Sure, they cook up various feasts, pair them with wine, and even add delectable desserts as well, but if there's one thing that they absolutely must include in their menu, it's the lentil! It even goes so far as to become part of their social customs during New Year's Eve, with many regarding those who refuse lentils when offered during this holiday as both rude and offensive. For them, eating lentils after midnight will bring about fortune for the coming year.
Toss Out Your Stuff
Many regard the famous Japanese organizing consultant and TV host, Marie Kondo, as notorious for letting people throw stuff away willy nilly, just as long as they no longer give them 'joy.' However, it was actually the Italians who have long normalized such a tradition, especially during New Year's Eve. If you roam around Rome, especially at midnight, you'll likely find a few old chairs, worn-out sofas, broken kitchen sinks, and more lying around the sidewalk. This is because it's a common Italian New Year's tradition to literally 'throw out the past' for the in-coming year. Some would literally just throw anything or everything right out the window, so be careful not to hang out under people's homes on New Year's Eve!
Wear Red Underwear
Since New Year's Eve is such an important and special holiday, you'll want to dress to the nines, wouldn't you? You'll want to don your designer duds and be the best-dressed in town just for the occasion. And while most Italians wouldn't be too particular with what you're wearing, some might actually wonder what underwear you have on. Don't be too offended as this isn't necessarily a form of sexual harassment. They might just be curious as to whether you're following their New Year's Eve tradition or not. For them, wearing red underwear is said to ward off sickness and bad luck for the coming year and it's a tradition that has continued since Medieval times!
As the saying goes, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do!' This rings truer during New Year's Eve. During this special holiday, you'll find that the Italian capital has a few traditions that are extremely fascinating, possibly so much that you'll want to join in on the fun too!
Staying in and having a relaxing New Year's Eve celebration in your own Roman luxury home is always a good idea too!