When it comes to welcoming the new year, many cultures believe that certain foods will bring good luck. Whether hosting a large party or a private family get-together, investigate what certain foods mean to certain ethnic groups to create a menu stocked with foods that will kick off the new year on a positive note.
In Asia, people eat long noodles as a way to ensure a long life. The caveat is to not break the noodles prior to eating them. Many Asian countries also believe that fish is a good luck food as it represents the notion of moving forward, according to Meghan Ahearn's "Good Luck Foods for New Year's Day." In China, other foods such as bean sprouts and bamboo shoots are associated with positive vibes and new beginnings. Other good luck foods include chicken, which means prosperity, kumquat, which is symbolic of future wealth, and peaches that are believed to foster long life.
Spaniards traditionally eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to predict the luck they will have in the coming year. In 1909, grape harvesters in the region of Alicante had a surplus of grapes, and started the tradition to sell their extra goods. Each grape represents the 12 months of the year and the sweetness or sourness of the grape predicts if the month will be good or bad. Since 1909, the tradition has spread to Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador and Portugal. Another Spanish new year's food tradition is to have chocolate and churros for breakfast.
Southern United States
America's South has several meals intended to kick-start a prosperous new year. Thanks to the fact that the color green symbolizes rebirth and affluence, cooked greens, such as collards, are eaten in hopes of obtaining financial security in the coming year. Black-eyed peas are another common dish. According to Lauren Salkeld, writer of "Lucky Foods for the New Year," the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve and day began in Vicksburg, Mississippi. When the town was besieged during the Civil War, food ran out except for black-eyed peas. Since the food sustained the community, it was deemed lucky.
In Greece, there is vasilopita, a sweet cake also known as the New Year's Eve Cake. Typically, the cake is stuffed with a coin and whoever gets the piece with the coin is guaranteed good luck for the coming year. The history of the treat goes back to the 4th century B.C. when a famine ravaged the Byzantine territory of Cappadokia, located in Minor Asia. Despite the situation, the people were still expected to pay their taxes. According to the website History of Greek Food, the Bishop of Kaisareia, (later to be known as St. Basil), solved the problem by convincing the people to donate jewelry to pay the taxes. When presenting the donation, he was able to convince the chief bishop who oversaw the taxes to give the suffering town a break, and return the jewels to the people. When the future St. Basil gave the valuables back, he added a pie.
- "Epicurious"; Lucky Foods for the New Year; Lauren Salkeld
- "Good Housekeeping"; Good Luck Foods for New Year's Day; Meghan Ahearn
- "EWN Lifestyle"; New Year's Eve Traditions in Spain and Around the Globe; EWN Lifestyle; December 29, 2010
- "Nations Online"; Food Symbolism During Chinese New Year Celebrations
- "History of Greek Food"; Vasipolita, the New Year Pie; December, 2008
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