So, I want to make sure I’ll be really lucky this year. You do, too? Well, lucky for you, I did a lot of research. By that I mean I just did some googling, but hey, it’s already your lucky day, so let’s not complain about my method of research, okay?
To ensure that we’ll be swimming in luck, we are to eat certain foods on New Year’s Day. There are many different beliefs and traditions out there, but I can pretty much summarize many of them this way:
Consuming food items that are green and yellow on New Year’s Day is said to bring luck and riches for the entire year. The color green is associated with the color of currency or money, while yellow represents the color of gold.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard, turnip or mustard greens are traditionally stewed and served as part of New Year’s Day meal in Southern U.S. Typically, cornbread would accompany the meal; its yellow color satisfies the gold component of the belief.
The shape of foods served on New Year’s Day appears to play an important role in many cultures and traditions in determining one’s fortune for the year ahead. Round foods often represent luck and prosperity because of their resemblance to coins.
In Italy, coin-shaped lentils are traditionally served to welcome the new year, much like black-eyed peas, representing pennies, in the Southern U.S. In the Philippines, people celebrate by displaying and consuming round fruits. People in Greece, on the other hand, smash a pomegranate to predict how likely the new year will be filled with prosperity. The fuller a pomegranate is filled with seeds, the more likely the future is filled with fortune.
In Spain and South America, grapes have been used to determine what months in the new year will be good or bad. 12 grapes are eaten in quick succession just as the clock strikes at midnight. Each grape is said to correlate with each month, with sweet predicting good times and sour bringing the bad.
In China and Japan, long noodles are slurped to guarantee long life; the longer the noodles, the better.
Some people also consider circular or ring-shaped foods such as bagels and donuts to be lucky since they represent the year has come full circle as well as eternity.
Pork and fish
Many cultures that appreciate pork regard it as celebratory meat. Pigs are thought to represent prosperity because their meat is fatty, and progress since their noses root forward as they search for food.
The tradition of serving pork and sauerkraut is still alive and well among Pennsylvania Dutch communities in the U.S.
For the Chinese, a New Year’s meal must consist of a whole fish. Fish symbolizes wealth and good fortune since their scales are silvery and shaped like coins.
Similarly, in Germany and Poland, pickled herring is consumed to bring in good luck.
So, which of these traditions do you follow? My family doesn’t exactly have any specific food tradition for the New Year’s celebration. We just usually have a lot of food on the table. And drinks! This is the one time in the year when the bubblies are a must for us. The real thing for the adults and sparkling juice for the kids.
So, I’m ready to adopt any and all of these traditions. I figure, why not? I want to make sure I’m plenty lucky this year! So, tonight I’m cutting my veggies coin-shaped.
Then I’m making black-eyed pea soup with sausages and greens,
and donut-shaped corn bread.
And I’m having lots of pork with this bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, served with sauerkraut and coin-shaped potatoes, for good measure.
Recipes to follow. Happy New Year, everyone!