30 Recipes to Eat on New Year’s Day for Good Luck
All over the world, people eat different foods on New Year's Day to bring good luck in the coming months—each dish with an interesting reason for its place at the table. Read on to learn more about these fun traditions.
Though several theories exist to explain why Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, the prevailing notion dates back to the Civil War. The legumes were considered animal food, but when the Confederate troops were starving after being raided by the Union soldiers, those black-eyed peas saved the day and their lives. Talk about lucky!
Because pork can be such a rich and fatty meat (hello, bacon!), it can represent success in the coming year. Further, pigs are animals that continuously push forward as they eat (unlike chickens, which move backward), symbolizing the potential for progress.
Lentils are another legume that gets attention on New Year’s Day. Their resemblance to ancient Roman coins (brown, shiny and round) make them a symbol of good fortune in Italian homes, and they’re most often served with that other notable luck-bringer, pork.
The luck behind leafy greens comes from their appearance—the color and shape is thought to resemble folded money, making them symbolic of wealth and prosperity. Southerners often pair them with the aforementioned black-eyed peas to double their chances of a good year!
Pomegranates may not be on your list of lucky foods, but they should be! Not only does their vibrant red color represent life and fertility, but those plentiful round seeds are an emblem of prosperity.
Ring-shaped baked goods like cakes, bagels and donuts are often eaten on New Year’s Day in an effort to bring a year of luck full circle. Sometimes, a coin, trinket or whole nut is slipped into the batter, and whoever discovers it in their piece is supposedly blessed with extra good fortune!
There’s a popular tradition in Spain in which grapes are eaten for luck. Superstitious folks believe that consuming twelve grapes in the twelve seconds after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve will ensure twelve months of good things in the coming year. Why risk the opposite?
Whole fish is often served on New Year’s Day; the head and tail are included so the year is lucky from start to finish. Further, their shiny scales are reminiscent of coins, a promise of wealth in the new year.