The start of a new year represents hope and promise, and many see it as a way to start over, to leave the worries and sad events of the previous year behind and gain a fresh perspective. People all over the world perform good luck rituals to ensure this optimistic outlook, and most revolve around copious amounts of food—the ultimate symbol of prosperity. Because this year was full of hardships for so many of us, it seems even more imperative to make sure that the new year treats us all a little better. Here’s hoping that keeping these good-luck staples on our tables on New Year’s Day will bring about a successful and plentiful new year.

Greens
Eating green, leafy vegetables is a good idea year-round, but on January 1, it may bring you more than good health. Because the color and shape of certain greens is similar to money, many consume vegetables like kale, chard, and cabbage in the hopes of a wealthier new year. The color green is also often seen in many countries as epitomizing growth and abundance. Southerners in the U.S. prefer collard greens. In Denmark, a popular New Year’s dish is sweetened kale cooked with cinnamon. People in Germany eat their cabbage in sauerkraut form.

Black-Eyed Peas
Any legume serves as a symbol of good luck for the new year, but black-eyed peas are the bean of choice for people in the southern U.S. This tradition’s origins come from the Civil War days. Vicksburg, a town in Virginia, was thought to be devoid of food during the battles until the people there found the peas. The legume has been considered lucky among Southerners ever since. They eat a dish called Hoppin’ John, which is comprised of black-eyed peas simmered with ham hocks, spicy seasonings, bell peppers, and rice. It’s usually served with collard greens and a side of cornbread, which is also representative of good luck, perhaps because of its golden hue.

Pork
Pigs can be symbols of financial success and progress in life for two reasons. First, because they’re rich in fat, so they’re seen as signs of abundance. Secondly, they tend to move forward when scavenging for food, unlike birds and lobsters, both of which are considered unlucky to eat on New Year’s Day. Therefore, the pig is a frequent star at New Year’s feasts. Those in Cuba, Spain, and Hungary roast their pigs and pig’s feet are a popular side dish in Sweden. In Germany, they take sausage form and collards in the U.S. just aren’t the same without some ham hocks thrown in, although eating hog jowls is also believed to ensure good health.

Lentils
Lentils look like tiny coins, and they expand while cooking, so many believe they represent economic prosperity in the new year. People in Germany must really want to cover their luck bases—they eat lentils, sauerkraut, and pork sausages together on New Year’s Day. That’s a good luck triple bonus! Not to be outdone, those in Italy eat sausage with lentils just after the stroke of midnight. Brazilians start their year with lentils and rice or lentil stew.


Noodles
The longer the noodle, the longer the life—so goes the belief in Japan, where they eat soba (buckwheat) noodles in soup during their New Year’s parties to ensure a healthy lifespan. The meal is called toshikoshi, which translates to “year-bridging.” However, breaking the noodles while eating them is bad luck, so if you’re making them for your celebration, be sure to slurp them up instead of biting off smaller pieces.

Fresh Fruit
Here in the U.S., we usually toast the new year with cocktails and party poppers. In countries like Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and Peru, citizens eat twelve grapes when the clock strikes twelve instead (twelve representing the months in the new year). This act is rooted in an overwhelmingly large grape harvest in Spain during the early 1900s—harvesters didn’t want the grapes to rot, so they came up with an enticing reason for citizens to consume them. They came up with the notion that the taste of the grape—sweet or bitter—will predict what lies ahead for each month. Not all popular New Year’s fruits foretell the future, though. Those who celebrate Chinese New Year feast on tangerines and oranges, and the Turkish favor pomegranates as symbols of riches.

Fish
Because of the way their silvery scales resemble jewelry, fish are thought to represent good fortune. In some parts of China and Europe, they’re also eaten to promote fertility. Pickled herring is on the New Year’s Day menu in Poland and boiled cod is traditional in Denmark. The Japanese eat herring roe (fish eggs) and shrimp, Italians consume dried and salted cod (called baccalĂ ) and in some parts of Germany, people not only eat carp on New Year’s, but they also walk around with fish scales in their pockets or wallets for extra good luck.

Circular Desserts
Many people believe that foods shaped like rings or that are round in form embody the year being properly completed. The Dutch and Hungarians eat donuts; households in Italy and Holland serve balls of fried dough sweetened with sugar and honey on New Year’s Eve. Called ollie bollen in Holland, they are stuffed with sweets like raisins and fruit. Dutch folklore tells of nasty beings that would cut people’s stomachs open during the winter, and if the stomachs contained the special pastries, they were immune to the sword. Sometimes the desserts also have surprises, such as coins or small trinkets, baked on the inside that bring good luck to the person who finds them. Mexican and Greek New Year’s traditions both involve ring-shaped cakes with goodies hidden inside.

Since most New Year’s revelries revolve around consuming lots of delicious food and drink, it makes sense to include dishes that are thought to bring good luck, especially when they are as mouth-watering as ollie bollen or hot lentil soup.


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  1. Maybe you can also add Mc Donald's Prosperity Burger... LOL
    Just kidding...


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