Italy is a top choice to visit when it comes to fine dining and beautiful historic buildings. The ancient Colosseum, the Florence Cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one can never go wrong with a quick, relaxing vacation in the country. But little do people know that aside from its gorgeous attractions and breathtaking views, Italy is also rich in bizarre and insanely unique traditions and customs.
Surprising customs and traditions in Italy
For starters, Italians have this so-called Befana, their very own version of America’s Santa Claus. But instead of a happy, jolly fat man in a red suit riding a sleigh of eight reindeers, imagine Befana as a witch with a pointy hat riding a broomstick to deliver children’s presents on Epiphany Eve, January 5th.
Sounds more like a late Halloween party, doesn’t it? As creepy and Halloween-y as it may sound, Italians believe that Befana is a good and friendly witch. And just like Santa’s nice and naughty list, she brings Italian children with goodies and presents if they are good, and gives them coal when they are less of a nice little kid.
Another interesting tradition in Italy is Venice’s very popular Carnevale. But apart from the colorful masks, vibrant parades, and lively performances of the locals, people flock to Venice for one of the much-awaited events of the Carnevale, seeing the famed Volo dell’Angelo, their flying angel.
Each year, the organizers select a different woman to perform the ‘flight’. She is lavishly dressed in an extravagant costume and strapped to a harness while flying over thousands of people in the Piazza San Marco. Both crazy and astounding.
If a flying woman across Piazza San Marco isn’t crazy and daring for you enough, then wait till you see a woman with fireworks shooting off of her as she dances around hundreds of onlookers. Well, for the record, she isn’t a real woman, though.
People celebrating Ballo della pupa make a mannequin of a woman which is a costume for a dancer. When the participant starts dancing in the mannequin-costume, people then start lighting up the mannequin and watch as fireworks explode off it. It’s definitely worth seeing.
Italian festivities are all cool and entertaining, but aside from the odd traditions, Italians also have very unique customs that set them apart from the rest of the world. Did you know that it is forbidden to dine with 13 people at a table? Yes, 13 is also an unlucky number for the Italian community and eating with 12 other people together in a table is never done.
Another distinct custom is done during New Year’s Eve when all of Italy eats lentils at midnight.
Lentils are their symbol of money, and who wouldn’t want to embrace the coming year with a positive perception of gaining more money in the coming months?
And finally, to top of their strangest tradition, Italians rarely eat eggs for breakfast. They are very consistent people, and with breakfast, it is always about coffee and pastry.