Want to get ‘Lucky’ for the New Year?
Traditions vary from culture to culture regarding meals prepared to usher in an epic New Year. I find it fascinating that these foods are considered fate changers!
—Grapes. New Year’s revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight; one grape for each stroke of the clock. The idea stuck, spreading to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents a different month, so if for instance the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure.
—Cooked Greens. Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason; their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune
—Legumes. In the Southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin’ john. Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind.
—Pork. The custom of eating pork on New Year’s is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. Pork is consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.
— Sauerkraut. The Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of mashed potatoes, pork roast and sauerkraut was created out of seasonal practicality more than true luck. This is a tradition I am familiar with and except for the pork, still enjoy today.
—Fish. Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year’s table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World’, cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages.
—Cakes. Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year’s around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items.In certain cultures, it’s customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year.
Certain customs require leaving a bit of food on your plate past midnight to assure your pantry will be well stocked.
It’s always fun to look beyond your own customs and traditions. Whether you believe in ‘luck’ or not; food is an important part of our celebrations and heritage.
Many of these delightful cultural traditions derived from what was locally available and seasonal.
Food is meant to be enjoyed and provides our bodies with energy, health and vitality. The foods we consume truly can change our fate by creating good health.