Your Luck’s In: Five Foods To Bring In The New Year

For many Westerners, the beginning of January signifies a time to let go of the past and embrace new beginnings. Traditionally, of course, foods play a big role in the celebration of holidays, and the start of the New Year is no exception. In particular, people celebrate by eating specific foods thought to bring good luck for the following 365 days. Some traditions involve beans, others prefer noodles; some see specific meats as auspicious, while others still have an eye on certain fruits. Regardless though, they’re all thought to augur prosperity, good health and the idea of moving forward.

It’s Citrus Time
According to Chinese tradition, eating citrus fruits like tangerines, oranges and pomelos can bring good luck and financial fortune. This belief stems partly from the pronunciation of the words tangerine and orange, which sound similar to the word for success. When it comes to tangerine in fact, one of the ways for writing it – 桔 jú /jyoo/ – contains the Chinese character for luck – 吉 jí /jee/. So if you’re looking for sustained prosperity, try eating as many pomelos as you can since it’s said that this oversized citrus provides continued prosperity!
Round, Rotund – And Lucky
Many cultures consider pork to be lucky and round, rotund pigs often represent prosperity. And, since they move about nose first, piglets are also regarded as forward moving. In Cuba, Spain and Portugal for instance, roasted pig is commonly served on 1 January, while in Sweden, pig’s feet can be found on the table. Germans, of course, are partial instead to a good sausage (paired with split pea soup).
Bean And Gone
Long symbolic of money, beans are eaten worldwide during the early days of January. In Italy for instance, cotechino con lenticchie – aka sausages and green lentils – is eaten just after midnight on New Year’s Day. In the American south, Hoppin’ John is a classic New Years day meal: the basic recipe consists of black eye peas, bacon and rice, with a side of collard greens, and was first invented in the 1800s. Legend has it that during the Civil War, the town of Vickburg Mississippi ran out of food during battle. Fortunately, the town’s residents discovered black eye peas and the small legumes have been thought to bring good luck ever since.
Having Your Cake And Eating It
What’s a party or celebration without a cake? Ring or round shaped cakes are often served during New Year celebrations as symbols of life coming full circle. In Greece, vasilopita is cut and eaten on New Year’s Eve to bless the house and provide good luck for the upcoming year. A hidden coin or small trinket beneath the cake’s surface only hammers home the point to the lucky recipient. In Mexico, rosca de reyes, a ring shaped cake that celebrates Epiphany, is eaten on 6 January during the celebration of King’s Day. A very old tradition places a trinket, usually a small figure of baby Jesus, inside the cake. In France the cake is called
galette des rois.
Oodles Of Noodles
In Japan, it’s customary to eat soba noodles in order to let go any hardship from the previous year. By slurping the long noodles up in one piece, without breaking them, you can help to ensure a long and prosperous life. Similarly uncut, the long Chinese noodles eaten for the (lunar) New Year are known as longevity noodles, and can either be stir fried or boiled and served in a soup.
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