It is that time of year when people are eager to say goodbye to 2021 with wishes that the New Year will be filled with hope, health and spending more time with family and friends. Whether you are spending the New Year with a small group of close friends and family or having a larger event, think about adding some special foods to bring in the New Year in your celebration. Special foods have often been a part of our new year’s celebrations, promising to bring luck and good fortune in the year ahead.
One of the “luckiest” foods to eat on New Year’s Day is pork. The meaning behind this tradition is that a pig uses its snout to dig in the ground, always moving forward. People tend to look forward at the beginning of a new year with setting goals for themselves. Pigs are also associated with plumpness and eating plenty, which is characterized as a sign of good fortune in the year ahead. The tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut for a New Year’s meal came to the United States from Germany and became popular in New England and with the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Fish is another common food choice for New Year celebrations. From eating sardines or herring at midnight for prosperity and wealth to other fish dishes served at New Year meals including salmon, cod and shrimp to bring good fortune in the coming year.
Cooked greens are often served on New Year’s Day. The green leaves, which look like folded money, are symbolic of wealth and good fortune. In some parts of the United States, these greens may be collard greens while sauerkraut, made from green cabbage, is from the German tradition. Whatever your choice of greens, some believe that the more greens you eat, the larger your fortune will be in the New Year.
Legumes are also supposed to bring you luck on New Year’s Day. Their small size are symbolic of money or coins. One of the most common American legume dishes is hoppin’ John, a black-eyed peas and rice dish eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck. Some believe in eating one “lucky” pea for every day in the New Year. Often served with the black-eyed peas are greens and cornbread. The cornbread represents gold, which is symbolic of good fortune in the year ahead.
Noodles are a traditional Japanese New Year’s food. The length of the noodle symbolizes a long life and the buckwheat flour used to make the noodles represents resiliency. The trick is to slurp the noodles and not chew them; because if you break the noodle, your luck runs out.
Spain has a tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight with each grape representing a different month. The goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight. It is harder than it sounds and some people even practice week before the New Year. If you are successful, the belief is you will have a year of prosperity.
Try any of these traditions at your New Year celebration, or come up with one of your own!