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New Year's Foods for Good Luck

By Megan Tempest in Food on Dec 31, 2009 4:40PM

At some point in your life you’ve probably had to tolerate pork and sauerkraut, or another similarly perplexing “good luck” meal, on the first of January. Read on for a little insight in to the wisdom behind several New Year’s culinary traditions.

Grapes - Natives of Spain are known to consume twelve grapes at midnight, each representative of the months of the year. In theory, in your third grape is sweet, you may anticipate good things in the month of March. This tradition reportedly originated in the early 1900's as a way for grape growers to make use of their surplus.
Pork - Perhaps the most universal “good luck” charm of the New Year, the fat-rich pig is symbolic of wealth, progress and prosperity. Around the world, including Portugal, Ireland, and Cuba, roast suckling pig is the standard New Year's dish.

Greens - Given their resemblance to money, folded green veggies, such as collards, cabbage, or kale are thought to bring wealth and fortune.
Fish - Believed to bring good luck in many regions, the tradition of eating fish on the New Year (especially those with silvery scales) dates back to the Middle Ages. According to German tradition, putting fish scales in one’s wallet will bring financial wealth.

Ring-shaped foods - The likes of doughnuts and bagels are believed to represent the cyclical nature of life, and of the year coming full circle. Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands enjoy doughnut-type pastries at the New Year. In Mexico, locals indulge in a ring-shaped cake adorned with candied fruit known as the rosca de reyes.

Legumes - Beans, peas and lentils, with their small, rounded appearance, resemble coins and are thought to bring financial prosperity. Brazilians typically feast on lentil soup for the New Year. Germans favor split pea soup with pork sausage. In the U.S., especially in the south, black-eyed peas are the lucky New Year’s food, a tradition that traces back to the Civil War when food was scarce and many survived on this hearty legume.

Noodles - With their long shape, the Japanese greet the New Year with buckwheat noodles to ensure a similarly long life.

Happy New Year!