From my archived columns, first published in The Examiner on January 1, 2009. The Examiner is a daily newspaper, Tuesday through Saturday, serving Eastern Jackson County, Mo.
There is an old Sicilian tradition that says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year’s Day!
Laughing at that are you?
Better take heed. The folklore surrounding that custom also says that macaroni or any other noodle consumed on New Year’s Day will bring you bad luck.
In my family in my growing up years, we got a jump on the New Year’s Day lasagna custom.
On Christmas Day, we would feast on lasagna and boiled or deep-fried shrimp. Looking back, I can only attribute that observance to the fact that my mother spent a lot of time in Italy and my dad spent a lot of time in San Diego.
Proof positive– my brother, en route from Colorado to Missouri for the holidays, called to ask, “Should I bring the shrimp? You are having lasagna aren’t you?”
Some might find that odd, but, to me, it was as normal as any time-honored tradition could possibly be.
In Missouri, most folks stick to the custom of serving turkey or ham with all the fixin’s for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I used to become embarrassed when a friend would ask, “So what are you cooking for the holidays?”
“Oh, the usual,” I would say to avoid saying, “lasagna and shrimp.”
Then, along comes New Year’s Eve, when we tend to join the common norm and serve our best horsd’oevres and the bubbly, just like everyone else.
Since we have already had lasagna for Christmas, I figure we are set for New Year’s Day.
Good luck is most assuredly “in the bag” or in the lasagna as the case may be.
Incidentally, there are other New Year’s Day practices that bear some mention, although they may not be quite as unique as the “lasagna brings good luck” one.
A quick internet search found these curious yet extraordinary customs practiced by folks around the globe. All are guaranteed to bring good luck and good fortune:
- In England, the first guest or visitor of the New Year should be male and should bring gifts. All visitors who arrive too early and empty-handed, and presumably, all females, must wait on the guy bearing gifts before they can enter. That doesn’t exactly get a party off to a great start!
- In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, one must eat 12 grapes, one with each toll. Each grape brings good luck for each month of the year ahead. Wow…you would have to be really good at eating grapes fast! Think about it.
- Meanwhile, in Peru, those folks are eating grapes, too, on each strike of the clock, precisely at midnight. However, in Peru, one must consume a 13th grape, to seal the deal—now, good luck will be yours!
- In Wales, at the first strike of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve, one must run to the back door and open and close it. This sends all the bad luck of the current year out the door where it is locked out forever. Then, one must run quickly to the front door in order to open that just as the clock strikes 12. This practice welcomes in the good luck of the New Year.
- In the United States, folks traditionally share a kiss that symbolizes purification and welcomes in the good fortune of the New Year.
What would it be like if one tried to practice all these customs at once?
The clock is starting to toll midnight. With the first strike, quick eat a grape. Then, run to the back door, open and close it, while eating a grape on each strike of the clock. Run to the front door and let in the new good luck of the New Year, all fresh and clean, but be careful, all-the-while, to not let in a female guest who does not bear gifts. Now, everyone kiss.
Wait, hold the phone.
We forgot about the 13th grape.
This could be a game show.
Lasagna on New Year’s Day seems a whole lot easier.