Who can really say what good fortune is? Trusting in some wise Zen parable would be enough to dispute the durability of the concept of good or bad luck. But there is no denying that, even now, tradition offers us many gestures to ward off ill-fortune: perhaps they come from a dim and distant past, the result of superstitions that make no sense, but in Italy they are commonly accepted using the magic sentence, “Non è vero, ma ci credo!” (“It’s not true but I believe it!”) that pretty-well everyone agrees with.
And so, let’s look at a small sampling of the more common gestures: throwing salt over the left shoulder to ward off bad luck, or getting a red horn-shaped amulet against the evil eye. Even wearing the same outfit on important occasions puts us on the right side of fortune, as does saying “In bocca al lupo!” instead of “Auguri!” (the equivalent of “Break a leg!” instead of “Good luck!”) to someone facing a challenging test. And “toccare ferro”(to touch iron or, as is our custom, wood) brings good luck, as does wearing red knickers for New Year’s Day or eating lentils and grapes that day in the hope of becoming more prosperous. Of course, whatever we do on the first day of the year, we are bound to keep doing all year long, so it is important to do something great!
And for our favourite team, we always have to sit in the same place at home to watch the games and possibly always with the same people. Finally, never cross the street if a black cat crosses your path. Phew, what hard work!
Be that as it may, January is the time to make good resolutions: each of us thinks about what ours will be. The usual classics include losing weight, playing more sports, learning a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument.
And then we hope with all our strength, trying to turn wishing into willing: will they really become one and the same?
Let’s hope so and let’s propose on everyone’s behalf the best of resolutions: to get back to moving freely once again, travelling as much and even more than ever before. Let’s see if 2021 is listening; if only it really wouldbring us good luck!