6 Things to Eat to Start
Your New Year Off Right
As the year winds down, we focus on having a great party for New Year's Eve, but New Year's Day is reserved for starting over and making resolutions. There are traditional foods people eat for the holiday to bring luck and prosperity. Here are 6 things to eat to start your new year off right.
Good Luck Grapes
In Spain, to guarantee a year of good fortune, people eat 12 Aledo grapes (one for each time the clock chimes at midnight). The tradition is called "las doce uvas de la suerte" (12 Lucky Grapes). If you eat all of the grapes by the twelfth chime, you will have a good year. The tradition started with wine producers with hopes for a good harvest. The lucky grapes are harvested in November and December. They are ripened in paper bags to make the skins thin so it is easier to swallow all 12 grapes in time to secure a good year.
Good Fortune Greens,
Eating greens and cornbread on New Year's Day is thought to bring you prosperity in the new year. Because of the color green is associated with money, greens are thought to bring wealth for the coming year. The greens can be cabbage, kale or spinach, but collard greens are the most popular. And what goes better with collards than cornbread? They aren't paired just because they taste great together--the color of cornbread represents gold. For extra wealth, some people add a few corn kernels to their cornbread batter.
People in Germany and Pennsylvania Dutch Country eat pork for good luck in the new year. In some German-speaking countries, it's enough to eat something pig-shaped, like a cookie, for good luck. It's a symbol of progress because pigs root forward. In this same vein, chicken is considered off limits because they scratch backwards, and lobster or crab shouldn't be eaten because they appear to move backwards.
Beans are a symbol of luck for the new year in many countries. In Europe, they eat lentils (with sausage) for wealth because of their coin shape. Sweet black soy beans are eaten in Japan for hard work and good health in the coming year. In the United States--mostly in the south--they eat black-eyed peas with greens and cornbread. How this tradition was derived has two theories: 1) it came from the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) for which black eyed peas are eaten for purification (Sephardic Jews settled in the south in the 1700s) 2) After the Civil War, the only crops left were black eyed peas, but they were hearty enough for people to survive on.
In Poland, Scandinavia and Germany, pickled herring is on the table at the stroke of midnight. Herring, with its silvery scales resembling money, are abundant in Eastern Europe. If this as part of your first meal of the new year, you will have a bountiful year.
Sweets for Success
No meal is complete without dessert, and to ensure a prosperous year, eat a ring-shaped cake. The shape represents one year ending and a new one beginning. In Denmark, they serve kransekage. It's actually many rings stacked together (with frosting in between) to create a tower. In the Netherlands, they eat oliebollen, which is similar to doughnuts.
Whether you're looking for good luck or just something interesting to eat on New Year's Day, there are plenty of symbolic foods to lead you into the new year with plenty of luck.