Good Luck for the New Year

Many cultures believe that eating specific foods on the first day of the new year brings luck, wealth and prosperity.

Good Luck for the New YearCan you believe that 2012 is upon us already? 2011 was a difficult and trying year for many people and we could all use some good luck. New Year’s Eve is a time for partying and celebrating, but New Year’s Day brings the promise of a better, more prosperous year. Many cultures believe that eating specific foods on the first day of the new year brings luck, wealth and prosperity. It’s a tradition that’s worth upholding even if you’re not a believer in luck.

Here is a list of so-called “lucky foods.” What’s the harm in at least trying?

Black-Eyed Peas
Here in the South it is well known that it is traditional to eat foods with black-eyed peas. They are meant to symbolize money and wealth. Hoppin’ John is one of the most famous dishes to eat during New Year’s festivities. When paired with pork or ham, it’s even more appropriate for the holiday.

Greens, unsurprisingly, also symbolize money. Europeans eat dishes with cabbage or sauerkraut. In the South, people eat kale or collards, oftentimes stewed together with ham hocks. Eat your greens for a wealthy, and healthy, new year!

Because of their coin-like appearance, lentils have long been believed to be a food symbolizing wealth and prosperity for the new year. All over Europe and even South America, people eat lentil soup or lentils with sausages on New Year’s Day.

Because a pig digs forward with its snout, it symbolizes forward progress. Eat pork or ham for prosperity, but stay away from eating chicken, because it scratches backward, and lobster, which scuttles backward. Pork on New Year’s Day is especially popular in Europe and the United States.

Fish is an obvious choice for celebrating the new year, because fish also symbolizes forward progress and wealth (fish scales represent coins). In Italy, dishes of cod and salt cod (baccala) are traditionally prepared. Scandinavians and eastern Europeans often enjoy herring for the new year.

In Spain it’s a tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight, with each grape representing the months in the old year. One grape might be sweet and another grape may be sour, representing good and bad months that have passed. The custom is also popular in Portugal and South America.

Round and ring-shaped cakes and baked goods are traditional to have for the new year. Fritters and doughnuts are especially popular in Italy and Eastern Europe. In Greece they make an almond cake called vasilopita, in which a coin is hidden. Whoever finds the coin is guaranteed good luck in the new year. Other cultures also hide trinkets in their New Year’s baked goods.

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