Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: January 12, 2019
Primary Language: English
Context: My informant is a 22 year-old student of Italian descent. The piece describes a traditional New Year’s custom for Italians, which is thought to bring good luck and prosperity.
Background: My informant has practiced this custom in her family for as long as she can remember. Her family participated in this tradition while still living in Italy, and she and they all continue to practice it after having moved to Los Angeles.
Main Piece: “Every year the family spends New Year’s Eve together whether we’re in L.A. or visiting family in Sicily. My dad and his 4 brothers are all chefs so food is definitely a very important aspect of our daily life. On New Year’s Eve, they all prepare a big meal together and we sit down and eat with the whole family, it’s always like 40 or 50 of us. At midnight, we all come back around the table and eat lentils and pork sausage. Lentils symbolize good luck and the pork symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. Eating those foods at midnight is supposed to bring you a year filled with good luck and prosperity, so it’s really important to my dad and uncles that we all take part in it. Food in Italian culture has a lot of symbolic meaning.”
Analysis: It’s interesting to hear how important food is in so many different cultures, and the symbolic meaning it holds. In another interview, an informant explained a Peruvian custom, which requires eating lentils, also to bring good luck and prosperity.