People all over the world have special traditions for celebrating the arrival of the new year, and often celebrations include the idea of eating lucky foods, thought to bring happiness and prosperity in the year to come.
Image: Courtesy of Champaign Taste
Just which foods are lucky depends on where you are, but there are some traditions that are pretty widespread. Here are suggestions for lucky foods from around the world, but if you have a New Year's food tradition that brings you luck, please share your link or recipe in the comments.
Foods Shaped Like Coins
Image: Hopping John from Tavallai via Flickr
In many places, foods shaped like coins are thought to bring prosperity in the new year. If you're in North America, especially the southern U.S. states, black-eyed peas are a tradition for New Year's Day, possibly dating from the Civil War, when most crops were burned and people survived on this type of field pea, also called cow peas. In the South, black-eyed peas are most often served in a traditional dish called Hopping John, usually containing ham, rice and collard greens and paired with macaroni and cheese. A few years ago on BlogHer I shared more ideas for cooking black-eyed peas if you'd like to get the black-eyed peas luck in a less traditional dish. Many African Americans make a type of coin-shaped cookie called benne wafers for good luck in the new year, or as part of Kwanzaa celebrations. In Italy people often eat lentils and sausages just after midnight on New Year's Eve, and lentil dishes also symbolize good luck for New Year's in Germany and Brazil. In some Eastern European countries, the lentils are combined with sauerkraut, and the long strands of sauerkraut symbolize long life. In Turkey, pomegranates symbolize good luck for the coming year because of the red color and the shape of the seeds, which represent money and prosperity.
Eating Greens, Fermented or Fresh
Image: Sauerkraut from JoePhoto via Flickr
Eating vegetables such as cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, chard or kale for New Year's are associated with the idea that the folded greens symbolize money and bring good fortune. While Southerners in the U.S. are often adamant that the only choice is collard greens, in Germany sauerkraut is traditional, and in Denmark, kale cooked in white sauce and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon is common for New Year's luck.
Pork for New Year's
Image: Zampone from avlxyz via Flickr
Pork is a symbol of prosperity in many cultures, which is one reason pork dishes are often associated with New Year's feasts. Pigs are good luck because they root forward, symbolizing progress, and the fatty meat is also symbolic of fattening wallets in Italy, where pig's trotters with lentils, or zampone, is a traditional New Year's dish. The wide variety of pork dishes eaten all over the world at this time of year includes things like roast suckling pig (Ireland, Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Austria), roast pork and sausages (Eastern Europe), ham and collard greens (U.S.), pig's feet (Sweden), or sausages with bigos (Poland).
Fish Scales to Symbolize Silver
Image: Pickled herring via Shutterstock
Fish, especially those with silver scales, are a lucky food for the new year in some places. In Germany, many New Year's feasts will contain carp, and some people will put some of the scales from the fish in their wallet to bring luck. Many people in Germany or Poland eat pickled herring on New Year's, with good fortune coming to those who eat it. In Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, people eat boiled cod with mustard sauce to bring in the new year.
Bread or Cakes With Things Baked Inside
Image: Rosca de Reyes From Argentina with Love via Flickr
Traditional cakes or bread with symbolic items baked inside are a New Year's custom in many places. In Greece, sweet breads often contain coins, and the person who gets the slice with the coin will have good luck that year. In England, Christmas puddings often contain coins or small trinkets which symbolize what will happen to you in the new year. In Mexico, a traditional king's cake, or rosca de reyes, contains a doll, and the person who gets the doll becomes king for the day and must find a woman to be his queen. In Holland. the New Year's treat is Olie Bollen or "oil balls" which are a type of puffy doughnut filled with apples, raisins and currants.
Eating Noodles at Midnight
Image: Soba via Shutterstock
In Japan, buckwheat soba noodles are an important part of the Japanese New Year celebrations. The long noodles symbolize long life, and you should take care to eat them without breaking the noodles. Buddhist monks also eat a type of crunchy noodles at midnight on New Year's Eve, and in Buddhist temples bells are rung 108 times.
Image: Linzer cookies via Shutterstock
Foods like doughnuts or bagels that are shaped like rings are thought by some people to represent the year coming full circle, and bring luck. An example of this type of lucky food is the Linzer Torte Cookies eaten in many Eastern European countries.
Image: Grapes via Shutterstock
In Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador and Peru, it is often traditional to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, one for each month in the coming year. Some people say the name of the month as they eat each grape, and if that grape is sweet, it will be a good month.
How Do Food Bloggers Celebrate the New Year?
Image: Black-Eyed Pea Soup courtesy of Kalyn's Kitchen
Maki from Just Hungry remembers New Year's Eve Feasts in Japan. Black-eyed peas are essential for Lisa from Homesick Texan. The Joy of Soup makes Lucky Bean Soup for New Year's Eve. Love and Cooking makes New Year's Lentil Soup. In Paris, Ms. Glaze will be sharing a New Year's Eve menu, starting with Gateau Chocolat. It's no surprise that Alison from Sushi Day always has Sushi on New Years. At Tezcape - An Escape to Food, Tigerfish thinks of abundance in the new year when she prepares Fried Fish in Soy Sauce and Ginger.
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