I LOVE Naples. The Italian tradition for New Year’s Eve is to attend an abundant dinner that we call “cenone”, and to spend time together with family and friends until midnight. Italians mainly in Naples are likely to throw crocks and old stuff from the windows, but this custom is disappearing.
In Naples, New Year’s Eve is one of the most awaited feast day. Everything turns into a party, the trepidation for the arrival of the new year is palpable.
The Napolitans love to celebrate the new year with folk customs, it is often related to food or objects in common use. For example, eating a large portion of lentils at the stroke of midnight could be a good sign of wealth or wear red underwear, it’s a way to propitiate the new year.
But what happens in many areas of the historical center of the city?
Lots of families throwing old pots, pans, clothes, appliances, even furniture out the window. Really! It’s meant to symbolize “letting go” of past unhappiness to prepare yourself for the future. Although most Italians have abandoned the tradition, do watch your head on the streets of Naples on New Year’s Eve!
This has some links to the ancient history of Naples.
When you think about throwing plates or other ceramics, you may picture the Greek tradition of smashing plates. New Year’s traditions in Italy take a page from the Greek book: in Naples and other parts of the South of Italy, in the past, about 2000 years ago, important Greek colonies, it is common to throw some sort of plate or other kitchenware item out of your window on New Year’s Eve to signify that you are ready for the New Year to begin. The act is meant to symbolize getting rid of the old to make room for the new. If you’d prefer not to throw anything, you can also stand in your doorway and bang some pots and pans together. Honestly, this sounds like it would be a lot of fun on a little crowded street, if all of the neighbors coordinated for the same time.
Fireworks and lots of noise also “scare” the bad spirits away. So, of course, expect lots of fireworks on New Year’s Eve! Practically every city, and many of Italy’s towns, put on a dazzling display. On a riskier note, families and groups of friends will often host their own, or simply throw firecrackers. So be careful walking around!