Welcoming the New Year—La Serenata di Capodanno

Celebrating the end of the old year and welcoming the new year is a ritual all over the world. Italian traditions include wearing red underwear to bring good luck; throwing out old pots, pans, clothes, etc to let go of the past and prepare for the future; and setting off fireworks to welcome the new year with a bang.

Singing the Serenata di Capodanno ©Donato Ferrara

History of La Serenata di Capodanno

The late historian, Pietro de Stephanis (1807-1894), wrote that hundreds of years ago, the women of the town would go out on New Year’s Eve and sing a cappella greetings to neighbors through the keyholes. They would end the song, which was always the same, with a wish for a happy new year—bona nova—before moving on to the next house. The next morning, the women would return to the homes where they had sung and left good wishes to find gifts from the homeowners. 

Gathering for the Serenata ©Donato Ferrara

La Serenata di Capodanno

In 1925, the town organized a special concertino, La Serenata di Capodanno, and wrote a song for the occasion. From that year on, a lyricist and musician wrote a new song for the Serenata. The songs may change, but the words always contain wishes for good luck and harmony in the new year. 

During and after World War II, the tradition was floundering, but in 1970, the tradition flourished again. Today, the Pettoranese still gather on New Year’s Eve to greet, listen, and serenade each other while toasting in the new year. It doesn’t matter whether they are good singers or not, professional musicians or amateurs; it only matters that they want to keep the tradition alive.

La Serenata di Capodanno ©Donato Ferrara

La Serenata 2020

While COVID is going to prevent the Serenata this year, the spirit is still there. As a sample of the songs, this is the beginning of Eccolo il Vento, from 2018. Michele Avolio wrote the lyrics and music.

Here comes the wind that brings new air
This is the time that passes and that goes
And tonight, one more time,
We will sing songs; we will shake hands.
There is a nice change of scene tonight,
A better scene in this land than pain,
suffering earth, scorched earth.
A song warms the air.

Practicing La Serenata di Capodanno ©Antonio Monaco

Take with you all the evil there is.
Kind wind, clean this air.
Bring us peace and the best you can
Then it comes the New Year
Bring us songs to sing from the heart
Bring us eyes to look far ahead.
Bring us hands to grasp slowly.

Chris Cutler

Travel Editor

Christine Cutler is a writer, photographer, editor, guide, teacher, traveler, Ohio native, Florida resident, and world citizen. she lives in downtown St. Petersburg with her husband and crazy Welsh terrier, and she considers Italy, where she holds dual citizenship, her second home. in addition to being travel editor and writing for live in Italy magazine, she maintains her own websites (coldpastaandredwine.com and christinecutler.com), guides small groups through Italy, and is a travel advisor for Adventures by Jamie (adventuresbyjamie.com) a travel, non-fiction, and memoir writer; photographer; and editor whose work has appeared in various publications, she spends as much time as she can exploring—and living and breathing—Italy.

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