New Year’s Eve or Feast of Saint Sylvester

Chiesa di San Silvestro

Pope Sylvester’s baptism of Emperor Constantine – Lateran Church, Rome

New Year’s Eve in Italy is known as the Festa di San Silvestro in memory of Pope Sylvester I who died on this day in 335 in Rome.

Sylvester I was pope from 314 until his death in 335, an important time in the history of the Catholic Church.

December 21st is not a public holiday in Italy but it is a festive time everywhere, with firework displays, concerts, parties and cenone.

One custom still followed in the south of Italy is throwing your old things out of the window at midnight to symbolize your readiness to accept the New Year.

Popular cenone items include cotechino (Italian sausage), zampone (stuffed pig’s trotter) and lenticchie (lentils).

Pork is said to represent the fullness or richness of life, while lentils are supposed to symbolize wealth or money. Many Italians believe the coming year could bring prosperity if these foods are eaten on New Year’s Eve.

Italian phrase of the day
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