Each New Year, people around the world eat specific foods to summon good luck for the next 365 days. Some popular traditions call for greens, legumes, pork, grains, noodles, and fish. All are symbols of health, wealth, and prosperity for the coming year.
- Greens—including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard—represent folded money. It’s widely believed that the more greens you eat, the larger your fortune will be. In the southern United States, each bite of greens is worth $1000 in the upcoming year.
- Beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money, more specifically, coins. Their small, seed-like appearance swells when cooked, symbolizing growing wealth.
- Pork, because of its rich fat content, signifies prosperity, a full pantry, and happiness. The custom of eating pork is based on the fact that pigs push their snouts forward as they root for food; this symbolizes progress.
- Grains—like rice, quinoa, and barley—stand for abundance.
- Noodles symbolize long life. The longer the noodle, the better. Key here is slurping the noodle without breaking it to ensure a long life.
- Fish are associated with wealth and abundance. Fish scales are said to resemble coins and there are plenty of them because the fish swim in schools.
- Golden corn bread represents gold coin.
- Ring-shaped cakes, pastries, and breads symbolize the year coming full circle.
On New Year’s Eve in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico, twelve grapes are eaten as the clock chimes twelve times at midnight. Each grape represents a month and predicts how the New Year will go—a sweet grape means the month will be a good one; a sour grape . . . not so good.
PARTY IDEA: Put grapes in sachets or thread onto skewers and serve with a glass of champagne just before the countdown.
Because they resemble brains, walnuts are associated with intelligence. Adding them to a kale (wealth) dish, ensures you’ll make smart financial decisions in the coming year.
According to southern forklore
Back in the days of the Civil War, black-eyed peas were considered animal food. When Union soldiers raided the Confederate food supplies, legend says they took everything but the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with the supplies, as meager as they were, and were able to survive the winter. Black-eyed peas became symbolic of luck, and eating 365 of them—one for on each day of the New Year—became a popular tradition.