Being a foodie through and through, I love when food has a special meaning to it. These foods eventually end up as a tradition in my home, making it that much more special.
When I was pregnant with our oldest daughter I learned about different foods that have meaning and are supposed to bring you luck during the new year. Naturally, these became a part of our holidays the years since.
As the New Year gets closer, I figured I would share with you the different foods that have a specific meaning that could bring you good luck in the New Year!
New Year Food Traditions that Could Bring Good Luck
Think about things that are green.
- Four leaf clovers
- Jade Jewelry
This is why collard greens are considered good luck. I will say I am grateful that there are other recipes out there that bring good luck because my daughters and I will eat greens, but they are not our favorite.
When you add bacon, onions, or mustard greens to a collard green recipe it might be a bit better. This year I am going to try this recipe.
2. Pork and Sauerkraut
This one is interesting and kind of neat. The reason pork is included on the menu as the meat of choice is that chickens and turkeys scratch backward while pigs use their noses to root forward.
Another reason it is used as a way to welcome people with blessings is that back long before you and I were born, having pork was a symbol of wealth.
Maybe pork is not such a good idea for you? Try making or finding a candy that looks like a pig. Rumor has it, that does the same thing.
My family has made sauerkraut for a long time. As a matter of fact, my first memory of New Year’s Eve was my great grandmother making sauerkraut. While this is not entirely bad, I had just come down with a stomach virus and the smell made me sicker than I already was.
The tradition comes from Germany, where my ancestors are from. It is told that they go around the table and wish each other as much wealth and prosperity as there are strands of kraut are in the pan.
Given my story from above, I avoid sauerkraut and opt to replace the cabbage with brussels sprouts.
The Mexican culture eats twelve grapes at midnight. Naturally, each grape represents the months of the year. The key here is to count the number. If your seventh grape is a little sour, then your seventh month might be rough.
While I’m not a firm believer of this method, it is still a neat thing. I feel like the Christmas tree made out of cheese and grapes would be a great way to celebrate!
4. Black-Eyed Peas
The story of black-eyed peas becoming a tradition starts with the civil war. There are two stories. The first one is that the union officers took over a raid of the confederates, they took everything to eat except salt pork and the peas that were deemed “animal food”. This animal food was how the confederate army men survived the winter that year.
The second story is that on January 1, 1863, the slaves were celebrating the beginning of the Emancipation Proclamation going into effect. Yet this was all they had to eat.
There are many more stories but these two are my favorite, probably because I am a self-diagnosed southerner (I moved to Tennessee when I was seventeen and have only lived in the north about a year and a half since that date- my diagnosis is justified!).
The other reason is that it just makes sense.
Blair over at The Seasoned Mom gives her Aunt Bee’s recipe. Be sure to check it out!
5. Ring Shaped Foods
I was excited to read about this one because I have been making round breakfasts for New Year’s morning for as long as I can remember.
Two years ago, I made these biscuit donuts which are super easy. Braving it, last year I made them from scratch starting the dough at about nine o’clock so I could do everything with them while my family got crafty, played board games, and ate good snack-y food.
The reason we make round pastries in New Years is to celebrate the year coming full circle. This tradition continues until Ash Wednesday, which starts the beginning of Lent.
To see more about that tradition, check out our post on Mardi Gras and the twelve days of Christmas.
If you chose to do donuts, you could do as the Germans do and add a prank filling, such as mustard. This, unlike everything else on our list, is supposed to bring bad luck.
Although, why would you want to bring someone bad luck?
Sticking with our carbohydrate loaded section, how about some noodles?
This is an Asian belief that long noodles represent a long life; however, there is one catch. I think you’ll like it, at least I know I do…
You have to slurp the noodles and not break them until they are in your mouth.
Naturally, this works better with longer noodles but I like the simpleness of the recipe shown above by Genius Kitchen. Simply substitute the noodles for your favorite long grain version.
Going along with the ‘moving forward’, part of the reason that fish are considered good luck food is that they swim in a forward direction and don’t look back.
Another reason is because they swim in schools, or groups, representing the people around us.
They also have scales that look similar to coins, representing money.
This recipe was chosen in part because it looked and sounded good- with white wine as an ingredient but also because it has tomatoes in it.
I read in one of the articles on Hoppin’ Johns that adding tomatoes brings health for the New Year.
Check out the full recipe over at Baker by Nature.
8. Corn Bread
Just as Greens represents dollars, the gold from cornbread represents coins or extra pocket change. You eat this in order to have extra money throughout the year.
It helps that cornbread goes well with pork and greens!
I grew up on Jiffy cornbread so it was important to me to find a recipe with similar taste. Here is one from the Stacy over at Six Dollar Family. Hope you enjoy.
9. Rice Pudding
In Sweden and Norway, rice pudding is served with one almond inside. Whoever gets the almond is supposed to have good luck for the year. Sometimes they are even given a gift.
This is the first time I have heard this story but you better believe that rice pudding will make its way onto my New Years table because I think it is probably the best pudding out there.
My grandmother made it for me as a breakfast item when I was a kid; therefore, I’m fully convinced this could be (and should be) a part of breakfast!
To see the full recipe, check out Yummiest Food, just don’t forget to sneak the almond in somewhere when you are finished!
Lentils are an Italian dish for New Years Day. The significance comes from the fact that, go figure, the lentils look similar to small coins. This symbolizes wealth.
It is often served with a cotechino, which is a big pork sausage which is boiled on low heat for about four hours.
I’m a big fan of lentils and while this may not be found on my plate this New Years Eve like it is there, you will definitely see it in the near future. I plan to share this tradition and recipe with my culinary students when we get back to school!
For a recipe featuring cotechino and lentils, head over to Academia Barilla where you can learn even more about this great dish.
11. Pickled Herring
Although this is normally a part of the twelve suppers in Poland and other similar countries, the Philippines use it as a part of the New Year’s tradition.
This is because Herring is in abundance in this area and the silver colors of the scales are thought to give bounty and prosperity. It is important to note though that this food is not eaten on New Year’s Day but instead, at the stroke of midnight.
To make your own pickled Herring, head over to hunter.angler.gardener.cook.
12. Twelve Meals
Here’s a fun one. Instead of a specific food, how about eating twelve meals?
The meals are eaten on the night that crosses over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The theory is that with each meal eaten, they will gain that much strength in the year to come; however, they do not eat everything set before them as they are saving food for the ancestors who come to visit on this night.
Champagne was a drink for people who had money. In the 1800s it became cheap enough that while it was not able to be a table drink, the average consumer could purchase it for a special occasion.
It became a part of the New Years toast for this reason and because it is beautifully presented with all the bubbles inside.
I opted for a mimosa drink to share with you because I believe in eating well all day long on New Years Day (and well into the New Year- life is too short to eat bland, cheap food) which is important and, well, I’m from Texas.
So be sure to check out this Cranberry Orange Mimosa made by Dorothy over at Crazy for Crust.
14. Apple Cinnamon Beignets
I think I want to move to the Netherlands.
While us Americans are typically worried about the traditional New Year’s Resolutions of eating better, being more money savvy, and organized, they are focused on eating sweets to celebrate the out with the old and in with the new.
Some of the sweets they include in the festivities are apple, currant, and raisin donuts, apple beignets, and apple turnovers.
My bet is there is an abundance of apples during this time of year there.
To see an apple beignet recipe, head over to Pop Sugar where Bryon Talbott gives you the inside scoop.
The tradition in Scotland is for a dark-haired male to be the first person on a neighbor’s doorstep on New Years Day. Naturally, this is done near midnight.
The key is, though, that this male is to bring with him shortbread, whiskey, and a dark bun in order to have good luck for the year.
They call this the “first footing”.
For a traditional Scottish shortbread, you can head over to The Homesteading Hippy‘s website.
The great thing about all the different traditions is that if you don’t like something, you can probably find something else to take its place.
Likewise, if you’re more into morning brunches, there is something for you. If you’d rather do a dinner, there is something for you too.
I hope this list helps you come up with some fabulous dishes to put on your New Year’s Day table and that you truly have a wonderful, exciting, and prosperous New Year to come!