There are all sorts of traditions to bring luck in the New Year, but I'd like to focus primarily on the food traditions today. In my research on these foods, I've found there are some that turn up again and again in many cultures. I'd like to share a bit of their tradition and history with you!
GrapesDating back to 1909, grape growers in Spain started eating 12 grapes at midnight to symbolize each stroke of the clock. The tradition has spread to many Spanish and Portuguese colonies and is still practiced today! The goal is to eat all the grapes by the last stroke of midnight and each grape represents a different month. So, for instance, if your 6th grape is a bit sour, June may be more of a problematic time, but if all your grapes are sweet, the year looks sweet for you too!Cooked Greens
Cooked greens are consumed in many countries because when the greens are cooked, they resemble folded money and so they are symbolic of prosperity. The Danish peoples eat greens sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon to sweeten their economic fortunes. Its also believed that the more greens you can eat on New Year's Day, the larger your fortune will be in the coming year!Legumes
Legumes are also symbolic of money because they resemble coins when uncooked and swell when cooked. So people eat them in hopes that their coin purses will also swell in the New Year! There is even a legend that in the Civil War, a town in Mississippi ran out of food. Luckily, however, they found the legume black-eyed peas and were saved! Ever since, many people have considered that legume in particular very lucky!Pork
Pigs symbolize progress to many cultures because they push forward and root themselves to the ground before moving. Austrians are known to decorate tables with miniature marzipan pigs and countries such as Spain, Hungry, Austria, Italy, and the United States all traditionally consume pork on New Year's. It is also though that because of the richness of pork, it signifies wealth and prosperity.Fish
The same can be said of fish as is said of pigs. They are always moving forward and, thus, seen as lucky for prosperity. In Japan, roe is also consumed for fertility, shrimp for a long life and dried sardines for a good harvest because they were once used to fertilize rice fields. Many other countries such as Germany, Sweden, Poland, and Denmark eat fish on New Year's as well. In Germany, it has even been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck. Cakes
In Scotland, there is a tradition called "first footing" in which the first person to enter a home after the New Year determines what kind of year the resident will have. They often bring symbolic gifts such as baked goods and cakes to make sure the household always has food. In other countries, such as Mexico or Greece, it is customary to hide special treats in a cake and if you find it, you'll be lucky in the new year. Traditionally, the cakes served on New Year's are round or ring shaped so that it will bring things full circle, thus being good luck or a fresh start. In Poland, Hungary, Holland, and the Netherlands they eat donuts! Yum!What to Avoid
There are also things you shouldn't eat because they symbolize bad fortune. Lobsters move backwards and symbolize setbacks. Chickens scratch backwards and could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Some other traditions guard against any winged fowl because they could cause good luck to fly away.
I hope you enjoyed learning about these food traditions and they give you some new ideas! Enjoy and we wish everyone a prosperous New Year!
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