Why Italians eat lentils on New Year's Eve?

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Why Italians eat lentils on New Year's Eve?

It is a beloved New Year's tradition: Italians eat lentils on the last day of the year. Here is why!

It is a must: lenticchie a Capodanno!

Every Italian eats lentils on New Year's Eve. Do you know why these legumes, considered humble food, deserve a place on the holiday table? Because lentils are a symbol of money, prosperity, and long life! They represent abundance. In other words, we believe they will usher in good luck - "buona fortuna" - in the new year. The most famous dish is "Cotechino e lenticchie," pork sausage and lentils. It is one of the most cherished specialties made during the holiday season.

Cotechino e lenticchie 

The traditional and typical dish is prepared with lentils and pork sausage called cotechino. This is a large sausage, very fat and rich. It is made with pork rind, nerves and fresh meat. Lately is not too difficult to find cotechino in the U.S., raw or already pre-cooked.

Lenticchie di Castelluccio di Norcia, the most famous Italian lentils

The lentil is an annual plant, flowering between mid-May and mid-July, belonging to the legume family. The most famous Italian lentils come from Castelluccio di Norcia, in the Umbria region. These lentils are grown in the karst plains of Castelluccio within the Monti Sibillini National Park, a place of charming beauty. Since 1998 the lentil produced in the village has been awarded the I.G.T., the Protected Geographical Indication. Known since Roman times, these lentils are tiny in size. The color ranges from veined green to light chestnut. This lentil is called "Lénta" by the inhabitants of Castelluccio. Lentil is the town's representative product par excellence. Castelluccio lentil is organic. It is the only legume that does not need to be treated for storage because - thanks to its resistance - it is not attacked by pests. The lentil blossom each year is a colorful spectacle. "La Fioritura, the "flowering" of lentils that produces a massive rainbow carpet of red, blue, yellow and purple flowers," writes Helene Cooper in the New York Times. "And then, beyond the grass, the colors of the lentil flowers and poppies that blanketed the plain in an enormous living tapestry." This incredible spectacle of nature attracts more than 250,000 tourists each year. In August 2016, a terrible earthquake almost destroyed the town. Luckily, the situation has improved since then, and the village is recovering.

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  • Donatella Mulvoni
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