Fireworks, huge gatherings, and food traditions have punctuated my New Year for as long as I can remember. Moving across the country meant this New Year would be different, and I was looking for a new tradition.
I reached out to coworkers and friends from all over the world about their New Year’s food traditions, and what I learned showed me a common thread. Though the dishes vary greatly, the significance behind them is similar: good luck, prosperity, wealth, and longevity.
Who couldn’t use a bit more luck?
Here are six foods to eat this New Year. If you don’t have a family tradition or are looking to try something new, add a little luck to your table with one of these dishes from around the world.
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1. Black-Eyed Peas and Greens
Of all the items featured on this list, I am most familiar with Black-Eyed Peas and Greens. These New Year Southern staples can be eaten separately, but I fondly remember mixing the pork-and-garlic-spiced peas with the smoky collard greens as I hadn’t quite developed a taste for the earthy peas. Eat at least a spoonful of black-eyed peas at the New Year for good luck and prosperity.
2. Hoppin’ John
This Southern dish of peas and rice represents good luck. Its savory signature flavor is achieved from salt pork and/or ham hocks. Our recipe for Hoppin’ John was lovingly developed based on the traditional tips from Ms. Emily Meggett, the matriarch of Edisto Island, who features Sea Island red peas, an heirloom cowpea from the Gullah corridor, in her dish.
The Best Large Dutch OvensGet a pot large enough, sturdy enough to tackle any holiday home project.
Share in the Mesoamerican tradition and treat yourself to tamales for the New Year. These corn-based delicacies take some time to prepare (hence why they’re for special occasions and the holidays) but are worth the effort.
In our version, we spread corn husks with a masa harina dough before adding a potent red chile chicken filling, but tamales can be made with pork or even stuffed with fruit for dessert. Eat as many as you can for good luck and a prosperous New Year; there are plenty to go around.
4. Soba Noodles
Traditionally served at the New Year in a broth-based dish called Toshikoshi Soba, (“year-crossing noodle”), these chewy buckwheat noodles represent longevity and good luck. Serve them hot in a soup or as a cold salad. You can purchase soba noodles and dashi to make a broth for the simplest New Year's meal, or spice it up with toppings of your choice.
Soba NoodlesThese delicate buckwheat strands are one of Japan's most popular foods. We tasted six products to see how they differed.
5. 12 Grapes
Spain boasts a host of New Year’s traditions, among which are the famous “lucky grapes.” At each stroke of midnight, pale green Aledo grapes—a variety of later-maturing grapes harvested in November and December—are consumed. If you want to try this tradition, eat one grape at a time for each of the 12 chimes ringing in the New Year. Finish all 12 for good luck!
6. Lentil Soup
In Germany, linsenuppe—a hearty lentil soup—is enjoyed because lentils represent prosperity in the New Year. Our recipe for a Hearty Lentil Soup adds bacon for smoky depth and brightens the earthy flavors of the lentils with fresh herbs and balsamic vinegar.