Irish food for the New Year tradition has its origins thousands of years ago, based on the abundance or lack of certain crops. The influence of religion is also seen in the Irish culinary New Year traditions.
Bread or Cake
On New Year's Eve in some part of Ireland, it is tradition to take a large loaf of Christmas bread or cake outside the house and hammer it against the closed doors and windows. Sometimes, it is first bitten into three times to represent the holy trinity. This superstitious activity focused around food was done to drive out any misfortune in an effort to let happiness in. To some Irish, New Year's day is known as the "Day of Buttered Bread" because of this tradition.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Ireland exported massive amounts of corned beef to France, England and America. Because so much beef was exported, the local market price of beef was too expensive for the average Irish person to afford. It was therefore savored as a special treat on New Year's to represent abundance and wealth. This tradition is carried out today as families traditionally eat corned beef.
Cabbage, unlike expensive corned beef, was a common source of nutrition for the farmers of Ireland. It even predates the potato. It was domesticated and farmed as early as 600 B.C.. Eaten with corned beef, it represents good luck and prosperity -- two themes all families hope to welcome in with the New Year.
Per Irish tradition, eat corned beef and cabbage along with potatoes, carrots and onions for a New Year filled with luck and abundance. This meal is created quickly by boiling and simmering corned beef to desired taste and texture, adding seasoning of spices to taste. Cabbage is boiled in a separate pot for approximately 15 minutes along with carrots, potatoes and onions. Add salt and pepper as well as any other spices desired.