WHERE has this year gone?

It certainly doesn’t feel like it has been a whole year since last Christmas, and that summer heat wave we enjoyed… that was just last month, wasn’t it?

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us. Some of us are ready for it – some of us aren’t even thinking about making any preparations until later in the month.

Whether you are raring to go, completely last minute, or a bit of a Grinch, what’s important to remember is that Christmas is a time for being happy, for spending it with your loved ones, eating, drinking and being as merry as Santa Claus.

It’s not about how much money you spend or how many presents are under the tree, it’s about relaxing and having fun.

Enough about Christmas for now though, what I want to talk to you about is an occasion that can often be overshadowed by Christmas, because by the time you have made all your festive preparations and the big day has been and gone, all of a sudden it is upon you… New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve is a wonderful time to celebrate. Out with the old and in with the new, New Year’s Eve is a time for fresh starts.

Here in the UK, our traditions range from singing Auld Lang Syne to making New Year’s Resolutions, where we make promises to ourselves to be better people, usually swearing off doing something that is having a negative impact on our lives, or setting ourselves goals to achieve something we want.

In Italy, there are many weird and wonderful New Year’s Eve traditions that people in the UK might not be familiar with.

One such tradition is wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve. Once Christmas is out of the way, expect to see an increase in red undies in Italian shops, in preparation for the celebration.

The red underwear is supposed to bring good luck to the wearer, with some believing that, as red is the colour of fertility, it can help those hoping conceive in the new year.

Italians are very superstitious, so don’t expect the red undies to be the last of it. Another New Year’s Eve tradition in Italy is to throw out old items and replace them with new ones, to encourage good luck.

You might be very unlucky indeed though, if you are strolling the streets when this happens – traditionally, old items are thrown out of the upstairs window, which isn’t so bad you are getting rid of clothes, but potentially dangerous if we are talking pots and pans.

The act is seen to symbolise letting go of unhappiness in preparation for the future – to be honest, it sounds like fun.

Like we do here in the UK, Italians love fireworks on New Year’s Eve, lighting up the skies to welcome in the New Year. Another tradition that might not surprise you is that: Italians like to eat, and New Year’s Eve is no exception.

The traditional dish of New Year’s Eve is Zampone e Lenticchie, which is pigs’ trotter with lentils.

If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, this month I’ll be bringing you a more family friendly version of the Italian festive favourite with sausage.

From all at Amici, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.