Many cultures around the world are celebrating the New Year by eating these foods to increase their luck!
January marks a significant time of year to look back at accomplishments and plan for the next year. Around the world, people are opening their pantries and cooking up a storm to increase their luck in the New Year. There are many traditionally lucky foods to prepare to ensure the New Year begins with good fortune. Here’s a quick guide to what people are eating this January to increase their luck!
Legumes are beans, peas and lentils, and they became a popular good luck symbol because of their resemblance to coins. In Italy, it is customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie just after midnight. This dish is made up of green lentils and sausage. Germans typically eat split pea soup with sausage, while Brazilians favor lentil soup and rice. In Japan, the first three days of the New Year are met with osechi-ryori, which is made of sweet black beans called kuro-mame. The American south popularized the dish Hoppin’ John, which is typically made up of black eyed peas, rice and ham. This tradition can be traced back to the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. This town ran out of food, but the residents fortunately discovered black eyes peas. Ever since then this legume has been considered lucky.
People around the world eat cooked greens in the New Year because the green leaves look like folded money and serve as a symbol for good fortune. The Danish are known to eat stewed kale sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and the Germans stick to sauerkraut. In the United States, collard greens are the most popular choice.
It’s a common tradition in Spain to eat 12 grapes at midnight to signify good luck in each month of the New Year. Be careful if you happen to get a sour grape! This could mean something unfortunate will happen in that month. This tradition started in 1909 when grape growers in Spain started consuming grapes at midnight in order to get rid of the surplus before the New Year.
Fish is commonly consumed around the world in the New Year because of the resemblance of fish scales to coins. In Germany, people are even known to put a few fish scales in their wallet for good fortune. There’s also a deeper meaning behind eating fish in the New Year. Before refrigeration and modern transportation, fish was easily preserved and transported long distances, making it a popular dish. It is also believed that the Catholic Church’s belief against eating red meat on religious holidays made fish a particularly popular choice amongst church goers.
Cakes are popular around the New Year in many different cultures. Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands eat doughnuts in the New Year. In some cultures, trinkets or coins are hidden in pastries to determine who will have the greatest good fortune that year.
Pork is often added to traditional legume dishes to increase the good fortune of the dish. Pigs are considered lucky animals in many cultures. Pigs represent progress because they root forward in their movement.
Some traditions to bring good fortune don’t necessarily involve food. In Scotland, many people celebrate a tradition called “first foot,” where the first person to enter a home in the New Year symbolizes good fortune. For the best fortune, the person must be a tall, dark haired man. Fair haired men and women are considered unlucky in some regions. The “first-foot” usually brings many gifts, including a silver coin, bread, salt, coal and a drink. These items represent fortune, food, flavor, warmth and good cheer.
Lobsters are considered unlucky to eat in the New Year because they move backwards and signify setbacks or going back on goals. Chickens are also considered unlucky because they scratch backwards and signify regret or living in the past. Some cultures believe it is unlucky to eat any poultry in the month of January because good fortunes could fly away.
Superstitions aside, many of these lucky foods are also a healthy way to bring in the New Year! Check out this recipe for Hoppin’ John.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Simply Recipes.