Superstition in Italy is very common: 58% of Italians admit to believing in black cats, broken mirrors and magical numbers that can appear in dreams. A percentage that in Europe is higher only in Latvia and in the Czech Republic. We can call it luck, chance or destiny, the concept is always the same: we are talking about a force independent of our will and which always has the last word.
So let’s see what are the most common food Italians eat during New Year’s Eve to bring good luck!
Chard: in overseas populations, green leafy vegetables, such as chard, are reminiscent of “greenbacks”. In Germany, the United States and Ireland, cabbage is also associated with money, due to the green colour of the “dollar”. Chard, rich in water, vitamins A, K, C, beta carotene, magnesium, iron and potassium, has refreshing, laxative, emollient and anti-anaemic properties. Furthermore, with only 25 calories per 100 grams, it becomes food to be consumed during weight-loss diets.
Lentils: their round and flattened shape is reminiscent of coins, an association that makes them an ingredient that must never be missing on the table on the last night of the year. Lentils are rich in proteins, carbohydrates and fibres; they contain phosphorus, iron, B vitamins but low in fat (about 2-4%). One of the most traditional combinations to lentils at New Year’s Eve is cotechino or zampone, a true Italian delicacy.
Clementines: the round shape is a symbol of eternity and a good omen for a long life. In addition, all citrus fruits are considered lucky charms. The peel is full of limonene, an antioxidant ingredient. Furthermore, essential oil is extracted from it that can calm anxiety and fight insomnia and water retention. Very rich in vitamin C, essential to keep the brain reactive and alert, mandarin is also rich in fibre and carotene and also has many B vitamins and vitamin A, as well as a consistent percentage of iron, magnesium and folic acid.
Pomegranate: a sacred plant for Juno and Venus, is still considered a symbol of fertility and wealth for its tasty red “grains”, rich in vitamins A and B. A new study conducted by Spanish researchers of the Catalan Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and presented at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology has shown that it contains active substances in maintaining the health of the cardiovascular system in general, removing the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Rice: its grains, as well as the lentils, are reminiscent of coins and, therefore, are a symbol of abundance for the next year. Rice is a refreshing, detoxifying food and has a mildly astringent effect. Furthermore, it is digested very easily and quickly.
Chillies: the superstitious effect that we usually attribute to chilli is linked to the red colour and the pointed shape considered capable of destroying the “evil eye”. Aztecs, Maya and Inca already used it as a medicinal remedy and even today the thousands of species of Capsicum annuum have recognized medical properties. In fact, its fruit contains capsaicin, flavonoids, essential oils, carotenoids, cellulose, calcium and iron; the vitamin C content (up to 340 mg / 100 g) is higher than any other fruit and vitamins A, K, and B are also present in significant quantities. Chilli pepper is an ideal condiment for various dishes (especially pasta) but it can also be used to decorate the table and home, during the Christmas period (and not only).
Grapes: those who eat grapes for New Year’s Eve count their money all year round. According to some traditions, each grape represents a different month, which means that if the fourth grape is a little acid, April could be a month with some pitfalls. Composed of very few fats and proteins, but rich in fibre, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C and with moderate content of folic acid, grapes have a detoxifying, purifying, diuretic action, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and fluidifying. Grapes can be eaten at the stroke of midnight, at the rhythm of one grape every bell toll until the twelfth, as a Spanish tradition dictates.