Recently, I became fascinated with the different foods to eat on New Year’s Day for good luck. This concept is relatively new to me because my family never ate something specific for good luck. There are traditional foods that we serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they are served because people would be very disappointed if a favorite dish was missing. However, many cultures have specific foods to eat on New Year’s Day to bring good look, and sometimes there is even a specific way in which the food is to be eaten! If you are like me and didn’t grow up eating good luck food, you can choose your favorite foods from this list to bring good luck in the New Year.
The Spanish New Year tradition is to consume 12 grapes for each of the 12 strokes of midnight. The goal is to have all the grapes swallowed before the last stroke is over, which is a pretty lofty goal. Symbolically, each grape represents a different month and if the fourth grape is sour, the fourth month of the year will be sour too. Interestingly, this good luck tradition is just a little over a hundred years old. In 1909 grape growers in Spain started this tradition because they wanted to sell the surplus grapes! The ritual caught on and spread to Portugal, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Who knows, the tradition might spread to my house, and grapes just might become one of my favorite foods to eat on New Year’s Day.
2. Cooked Greens
Cooked greens are eaten throughout the world for good luck. There is a very good reason for this. Leafy greens resemble money, and eating them is supposed to bring you money in the New Year. In fact, the more cooked leafy greens you eat, the more money you are supposed to have. Even if eating them doesn’t bring you more money, it should at least bring you good health!
Wealth is a popular reason to eat a good luck food. Just like cooked greens are consumed for wealth, legumes, which resemble coins, are also eaten on New Year’s Day to ensure a wealthy New Year. Lentils are a popular choice among different cultures. Italians and Germans both eat lentils and sausage after midnight, and Brazilians eat a lentil soup or lentils with rice. Taking a different approach, the Japanese eat a symbolic dish that includes sweet black beans, and the people in the Southern U.S. eat black eyed peas. If you are looking for a reason to add more legumes into your diet, their popularity as a symbol of money just might be persuasive enough. It certainly has me thinking.
You might have noticed that both the Italians and the Germans included sausage with their legumes. This is because pork is a symbol for progress in the New Year. Pigs push their noses forward into the ground when looking for food, and this forward motion is what has led them to be considered a food to eat for progress. Sausages aren’t the only way pork is consumed. Roast suckling pigs are prepared for the New Year in Spain, Portugal, and Hungary. If you are vegetarian, don’t despair. You can also partake in eating food to symbolize progress. In Austria miniature candy pigs made out of marzipan are eaten for progress.
Fish is another popular food to eat in the New Year. According to some people, the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word abundance, which, supposedly, resulted in people eating fish for abundance. Another reason given for people eating fish for abundance comes from the German, Polish, and Scandinavian tradition of eating pickled herring to celebrate the New Year. Herring is an abundant fish in those countries, and eating it is supposed to bring bounty. Plus, the scales of herring resemble, you guessed it, coins! Regardless of where the tradition began, eating fish on New Year’s Day is common throughout the world. If you want to practice this tradition, just make sure you serve the whole fish, which ensures that your whole year will be good!
6. Baked Goods
Eating baked goods in the New Year is definitely one of the most delicious sounding good luck traditions. I certainly wouldn’t mind eating the pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants that are served in Holland on the New Year! They sound very scrumptious. Many other countries, like Greece, also have bake goods that are served for good luck. In Greece, the traditional vasilopita has a coin that is baked into the cake. Whoever finds the coin will have good luck the coming year. While I am not skilled enough to make a vasilopita, I certainly could place a coin in a quick bread to participate in this tasty and fun New Year’s Day tradition.
7. Soba Noodles
I love soba noodles. I think the nutty flavor of the buckwheat noodles is very tasty. In Japan, these favorite noodles are eaten for good luck in the New Year. The long noodles are meant to symbolize a lean and long life. The only catch with this tradition is that you are supposed to slurp the noodles down without breaking them or chewing them. For people who are practiced at eating the noodles this way, this isn’t hard. However, for someone like me it might be a messy endeavor. Although, I think it would probably also be a fun way to engage in the tradition of eating food for good luck in the New Year.
With 2014 just around arrived, you might want to consider including some of these foods in your next New Year’s Day feast. They can all bring good luck, and who doesn’t need a little good luck every now and then? At the very least, some of the traditional good luck foods sound very tasty. Do you have any foods you eat for good luck in the New Year?