Favorite New Years Foods from Around the World
Greens - Collard greens are a late crop mostly grown in the south, so they’re easy to find in the colder months. Supposedly greens are a go-to New Year’s Eve food because they resemble money.
Beans, like greens, resemble money; more specifically, they symbolize coins. Traditionally, in the American South, beans are combined with rice and bacon for a lucky New Year’s Eve dish called Hoppin’ John.
Cornbread - Mix and match a few different New Year’s Eve food traditions with black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread to make a fortune this year. As the Southern saying goes, “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.”
Soba - In Japan, toshikoshi soba is the traditional New Year’s food of choice. The length of the soup’s soba is said to symbolize a long life, while the buckwheat flour the noodles are made of brings resiliency. Part of the tradition is slurping these noodles since the luck from this New Year’s Eve food runs out if you break or chew the noodle.
Grapes - Make sure to add grapes to your New Year’s food and cheese platter this year. On New Year’s Eve, Spaniards pop a grape for each stroke of midnight, with each representing a page of the calendar ahead. If one is bitter, watch out for that month!
Pork - Pigs are a lucky New Year’s Eve food because they move forward when they eat. They are also rotund, symbolizing a fat wallet ahead. And the meat itself is fattier than other cuts of meat, making this New Year’s Eve food both tasty and a symbol of prosperity.
Cake - Ring-shaped cakes—sometimes with trinkets baked inside—are a symbol of coming full circle, making them a perfect New Year’s food. This tradition stems from the Greeks who make a traditional Vasilopita for New Year’s Eve food with a hidden coin baked inside. If you get the piece with the coin you’ll have good luck for a year.
Fish - Fish are believed to be a lucky New Year’s Eve food because their scales resemble coins, and they swim in schools, which invoke the idea of abundance. Plus, before they were a New Year’s Eve food, fish swim forward which represents progress.
Pomegranate - In a Greek tradition, families toss a pomegranate against their front door when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. The more seeds fall out, the more luck and fertility that household will be blessed with. Pop yours in a plastic bag to avoid making a mess, or make your New Year’s party extra cheerful by whipping up cranberry pomegranate margaritas.
Dumplings - On the day before the Chinese New Year, families will gather to make jiaozi. The dumplings are shaped like gold ingots—the currency used in ancient China—so eating them as a New Year’s Eve food will bring financial luck. Try making your own healthy steamed dumplings.
Oranges - Mandarin oranges are one of the main symbols of Chinese New Year. Stick with fresh mandarins, not the canned stuff—the fruit itself is said to bring prosperity, and having one with the stem and leaf attached will bring a long life and fertility.
Sauerkraut - According to German and Eastern European superstition, rolling in the New Year with a heaping plate of sauerkraut means wealth, and the Pennsylvania Dutch have kept up that tradition. The more you eat this New Year’s Eve food, the bigger your bankroll!
Lentils - Italians traditionally would eat lentils for the New Year’s Eve dinner. In the past, Romans would give a leather bag of the legumes, in hopes that they would turn into gold coins. Try cooking yours into a sweet potato lentil stew. Or double up on your luck and cook these lentils with another New Year’s Eve food—pork.