Some Italian Food Traditions

 1.   On the first day of the new year, Italians traditionally eat lentils as they are considered to bring good fortune during the next twelve months.  Lentils are called le lenticchie in Italian.
They are associated with  prosperity and wealth because
they look like small coins.

2.   The period before Lent is called Carnevale and throughout Italy it is a time of merrymaking, parades, fancy dress and masks.  Venice (Venezia) is the most famous place for Carnevale activities. 
A traditional Italian food in Italy during Carnevale is le frittelle.  These are pan-fried fritters prepared in a spiral shape.  The fritter can be referred to as una ruota, meaning - a wheel.  
   These frittelle were prepared in the town of Alghero by Patrizia Comida and her mamma Teresa Pasella.

3.   On Good Friday (il Venerdì Santo) it is the Italian tradition to eat fish and NOT to eat any meat.  On Easter Day (il Giorno di Pasqua) it is the Italian tradition to eat lamb - l'agnello.  
There is an Easter sponge cake called la colomba, meaning 'the dove.'  It is shaped like an open-winged dove and is decorated with almonds and sugar strands.  The dove is a symbol of peace 

On Easter Day, chocolate eggs are also eaten.  They are very beautifully wrapped with coloured foil and a bow at the top.  Inside there is always a surprise gift known as una sorpresa.  In this giant Easter egg the sorpresa was a plastic hair comb!  
Molto deludente!
(Very disappointing!)

un uovo di Pasqua = an Easter egg.
4.    At Christmas there is a special cake called il panettone.  It contains dried fruit and candied peel.  Another cake called
il pandoro
is also eaten.  Its name means 'golden bread'.  It does not contain dried fruit or candied peel but it can be plain or filled with custard cream - la crema pasticcera
Il pandoro is traditionally dusted with icing sugar -
lo zucchero a velo.


                   panettone                                 pandoro

Late on Christmas Eve it is the tradition to eat a dinner called
il cenone della Vigilia di Natale.   Another late night dinner is eaten at New Year - this can be called either
il cenone di San Silvestro  or  il cenone di Capodanno.

5.   At special occasions such as a wedding (un matrimonio),  a christening (un battesimo), First Communion (una prima comunione) and Confirmation (una cresima), it is the tradition to give a keepsake to the guests.  This is called una bomboniera.

  Usually la bomboniera consists of five sugared almonds called confetti wrapped in a decorative pouch or box and accompanied with a trinket.  The five sugared almonds represent:
health (la salute), wealth (la ricchezza), happiness (la felicità), fertility (la fertilità) and long life (la longevità).

 Almonds are considered bitter so by coating them in sugar they represent the bitter and sweet nature of life but with more sweetness than bitterness. 

  There is a little label attached (un biglietto) to la bomboniera with the details of the special occasion: names, date, etc. 
Nowadays, there are all kinds of individual designs and ideas that are used for una bomboniera.   They can even be laid out in the form of a cake called una torta bomboniera.


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