New Year’s Food Traditions

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Traditionally, holidays are celebrated with all sorts of particular foods and the New Year is no different. The foods eaten to celebrate the start of another year tend to represent luck, health, wealth, and moving forward. Here are ten traditional New Year’s foods that you can add to your party menu to bring you good fortune in the coming months.

Black eyed peas and greens – While this dish has traditional been considered a southern food, it actually comes from the Jewish tradition of eating black eyed peas to celebrate a new year. The peas symbolize wealth because they are coin shaped. They also represent growth because the peas expand in size as they are soaked. The greens (which can be collard, beet, or any other suitable leafy vegetable) represent money.

Pork – Some form of pork is often eaten in New Year’s meals because it symbolizes moving forward (pigs move headfirst as they root for food). Try simple braised pork or pulled pork sandwiches for your New Year’s dinner. You could also add pork sausages to your breakfast.

Hoppin’ John – This recipe uses both black eyed peas and pork (in the form of ham hocks) for good fortune and luck. With long-grain white rice, bell peppers, onions, and Cajun seasoning, Hoppin’ John is also a warming meal on a customarily cold day.

Lentils – With lentils, we once again find a food that symbolizes money because of its coin-like shape. Usually, green lentils are eaten in a soup or stir fry to celebrate the change in year.

Sauerkraut – The Germans started the tradition of eating this fermented cabbage as a way to usher in a year of good fortune and wealth. Sauerkraut is generally used as a topping for pork to double the luck of the meal.

Fish – Whether carp or cod (the traditional choice) or local whitefish or trout, fish symbolizes good health and a long life.

Pomegranate – This red fruit represents health (because the color is the same as the heart) and fertility (because of the plentiful seeds). Add the round shape of the seeds as a symbol of wealth and you have the perfect New Year’s food. Add the seeds to a simple romaine lettuce salad, along with pears and a Dijon dressing.

Soba noodles – Eating long noodles on New Year’s Eve is a Japanese tradition. Make sure to finish by midnight or you may have bad luck in the coming months. Try the noodles with a simple peanut sauce and a sprinkling of green onions.

Dumplings – These little food packets look like the ingots that used to be used for Chinese currency. As such, they are eaten to bring good fortune in the New Year. You can easily make your own dumplings using wonton wrappers and a simple vegetable filling.

New Year’s cake – While the flavor varies, these ring-shaped confections are traditional in many countries. Use small Bundt pans to make individual cakes or a large one to make a cake to share. Traditionally, these cakes use some sort of fruits (lemon, raisins, and apples being most common).