New Year's Lucky Foods: Ensure a Prosperous & Fortunate 2014
Black-eyed peas are a common lucky food on New Year's, but there are many more.
Photo by Pen Waggener
What's the best way to start the New Year on the right foot? With food, of course. Each country and region has its own special "lucky" foods to eat on New Year's Eve and Day. In the Southern portion of the United States, it is common to have a plate of black-eyed peas, cabbage, ham (in some way, shape or form) and cornbread. In Japan, bowls of noodles are consumed in massive amounts.
Maybe you've never been superstitious enough to fix a plate of lucky foods for New Year's, or maybe it's your family's tradition to eat the luckiest foods in hopes of granting yourselves good fortune for the year. Whichever side of the superstition line you find yourself on, you have to eat, so cook up some (or all) of these foods consumed around the world on December 31 and January 1. Each brings different luck and fortune.
Don't break the noodles!
Photo by naotakem
The Japanese slurp soba noodles at midnight to ensure longevity. The longer the noodles, the longer you will live. Just don't break the noodles as you slurp them because that brings bad luck.
Round foods are often considered lucky because they symbolize your year coming full circle. In Spain, a dozen grapes are consumed individually at the stroke of midnight. Each grape represents a month, so the sweet ones mean those months will be good, and the sour ones mean those months will be unlucky.
Circular Food/Ring-Shaped Food
As previously mentioned, round foods symbolize the year coming full circle. Start 2014 with something round for breakfast, such as bagels, an English muffin, an orange or a doughnut (maybe not too many, or your health will be in jeopardy).
Ring-shaped foods bring the same good fortune as circular foods. Many people bake ring-shaped cakes or breads and put a coin into the batter. The person who finds the coin will receive more luck...unless he bites the coin, then maybe he'll just receive a trip to the dentist.
Speaking of coins, if you eat coin-shaped food on New Year's, then prosperity is in your future. Bake a batch of coin-shaped cookies (possibly ones that are golden) to enjoy at the end of your celebratory night.
Savory coin-shaped dishes include lentils and black-eyed peas. Add some bacon or ham to the black-eyed peas, as well as celery and onions, and serve over rice to make Hoppin' John. Both lentils and black-eyed peas resemble coins, and so symbolize wealth and good fortune for the new year.
Any piece of meat from a pig is considered to be one of the luckiest foods because pigs root forward, symbolizing progression. Serve a pork chop for dinner, or add ham and bacon to a few dishes for good fortune and progression in the new year.
Collards, mustard greens and cabbage all represent money, so serve up a heaping helping of greens on New Year's Day. Cabbage goes great with a side of black-eyed peas. Remember to add some pieces of bacon to the cabbage. Pig, greens and black-eyed peas make one lucky meal.
Not only is a slice of cornbread a tasty addition to a plate of cabbage and black-eyed peas, it's also a lucky one. The gold color of cornbread symbolizes good fortune. So, serve yourself a big piece.
Fish have a few lucky elements. The scales look like coins and the fish travel in schools, granting you prosperity and affluence, and they swim forward, ensuring progress in the coming year for you. Eating the entire fish (head to tail) brings good luck from January until December.
A Greek tradition on New Year's is to smash a pomegranate on the floor to expose the seeds. More seeds means more luck. The smashing of a pomegranate also symbolizes a life of good health due to the red color of the fruit.
Do you have any special lucky foods you eat on New Year's Eve or Day? Or any foods you avoid?
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.