Two years ago my husband and I went to Rome with friends right after Christmas. As excited as I was about the trip, I have to confess that I was a little nervous about ringing in the New Year in The Eternal City. My mother had raised me to eat black-eyes peas for good luck on New Year’s Day like a proper Southern girl, and I was worried about what would happen when I did as the Romans do, instead.
So, what do the Romans do for New Year’s? A lot! When we arrived at the Enoteca Ferrara in Trastevere, we found red scarves rolled up on our plates. The staff said it was tradition to wear red on New Year’s, but I knew the real scoop. Italians wear red underwear to bed on New Year’s Eve, so as an Italian-American, I’d made sure to buy some that day. But I wore the scarf too, just in case.
Next, I ate the traditional dish of lentils and cotecchino, wolfed down a muffin with a coin baked inside (as luck would have it, I didn’t swallow the coin), shoved twelve grapes in my mouth at midnight (one for each stroke of the clock), jumped in and out of a circle of thirteen lighted candles, and I don’t know what the hell else. I’d had a lot of red wine and prosecco at that point.
When we finally left the restaurant after midnight, crowds of people were celebrating in the streets. Among them, the taxi drivers. Yes, we found out that at the stroke of midnight, Italian cab
drivers stop working. I mean, they have to celebrate too, right? Unfortunately, our hotel was miles
away, so it seemed our Roman luck had already run out. We began to walk, and then lady luck smiled on us—and so did a cab driver. Apparently, he’d seen us circling the
never-ending Vatican wall and postponed his party plans to pick us up.
So, how did my year turn out? Honestly, it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Among other things, I wrote a book, found a publisher, and in the process, made a dream come true. You’d think I’d be happy, right? Wrong! Now every New Year’s Eve I worry about what will happen when I don’t go to Rome and do all the things the Romans do. But you can bet your booty that I go to bed wearing red underwear.
Happy New Year (Buon Anno)!