Ring in the New Year: Foods to Bring You Luck
Folklore and custom around the world dictates that eating certain foods can bring wealth, prosperity and abundance in the New Year. Photo: Wout Vanacker/ Unsplash
How about serving up some luck this New Year’s Eve? Here, some traditional lucky foods to add to your menu.
Folklore and custom around the world dictates that eating certain foods can bring wealth, prosperity and abundance in the New Year. Whether you’re superstitious or not, these traditions can add some tasty fare to the table.
1. Green veggies for greenbacks
Good news for vegetable lovers: it’s tradition to serve up some healthy fare for New Year’s. Many leafy green vegetables are thought to bring luck because they are the same colour as American dollars. Whether you believe this theory or not, these veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron and calcium – making them a smart way to start the year.
But how should you prepare them? In the Southern U.S., collard greens are the favoured choice, and they’re often boiled with a piece of salt pork or ham hock to temper their texture and bitter flavour. The vegetable may also be served with cornbread (which is the colour of gold) to soak up the broth.
In Denmark, kale is the vegetable of choice and a topping of white wine sauce, sugar and cinnamon is traditional.
If you’re not fond of these bitter greens, try turnip greens, dandelion, Swiss chard or spinach. As an alternative, bend the rules a little and use these greens for a salad. (And it’s okay to sneak in some other colours – after all, money isn’t just green.)
3. Meaty rewards
With legumes on hand, meat isn’t necessary for a New Year’s feast, but there are a few choices according to custom. One of the most common is pork, and it’s associated with wealth for a couple of reasons, depending on the country. Its fatty meat is linked with wealth or “fat wallets,” and pigs root forward – symbolizing progress. Roast pork, ham, sausages, roast pig and even pig’s feet are some of the many choices served around the world.
Fish also makes the list – with carp being the choice in Germany, boiled cod the favourite in Denmark and herring served as a midnight snack in Poland. The scales are lucky because of their resemblance to silver, and consuming fish is thought to ensure a good catch throughout the following year.
But beware … some meats are thought to bring bad luck. According to cooking website Epicurious.com, chickens, which scratch at the ground backwards, could cause people to dwell on past regrets. Other winged foul will “fly away” with your luck, and lobster will cause setbacks because the crustacean moves backwards.
4. Long strands, long life
Forget the potatoes and try noodles for a long life. The Japanese custom is to serve long ooma noodles – but you’d better be careful not to break them as you slurp! In parts of Europe, sauerkraut is served instead, but long strands of cabbage are preferable to guarantee longevity.
5. Sweet success
Yes, desserts and sweet treats can bring you luck, too, if its shape resembles a coin or a ring. In the Netherlands, olie bollen (doughnut-like pastries filled with apples and raisins) are popular, while Italians treat themselves to chiacchiere, fried balls of pasta dough drenched with honey and sprinkled with sugar. Doughnuts are popular in Hungary and Poland, while sweet breads or cakes are served in Italy as a symbol of hope. Benné wafers, made from sesame and cheese, are also served in many African countries or in African-American communities.
Of course, sweets of any kind can be served to promote “sweet success” in the future.
6. Hidden treasures
Some traditions dictate that not everyone gets the luck on New Year’s – and ironically it’s a matter of chance who gets the nod. It’s tradition in many parts of the world to serve a loaf of bread, cake or dessert with a special treat baked inside. The person who gets the treat – whether it’s a nut, coin or other trinket – is said to have luck for the New Year.
The entire menu doesn’t have to be these lucky foods – you can use one or two or as many as you like. The trick is to eat well but to create a balanced menu that doesn’t focus on heavy, rich foods. If you want to stray from this list, look for the essentials: colour (green, gold or silver) and shape (round or coin-shaped).
For ideas and instructions, check out:
– All Recipes.com: New Year recipes section.
– Epicurious.com: New Year’s Eve Recipes.
– Fabulous Foods.com: Lucky New Year’s.
Additional sources: 123NewYear.com, Mealtime.org