of the Craziest New Year’s Food Traditions
For many people, New Year’s Eve means watching the ball drop, considering and dismissing a few dozen resolutions, and sneaking in a kiss while a drunken chorus of strangers belts out a sloppy rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”
However, for many, the name of the game on New Year’s is feasting. In cities from Mexico City to Munich, folks will be ringing in 2018 with a wide variety of foods that promise to bring good luck all year long. From candy animals to festive fruit, these wild New Year’s food traditions might just make 2018 your best year yet.
Start the New Year on a healthy and delicious note, by taking a page from the Greeks and the Turks. In Greece, pomegranates are smashed on the ground to represent abundance in the new year. In Turkey, their seeds are eaten for luck and good health.
If you’re eager to make the new year better than the passing one, dig into a dish of soba noodles. In Japan, eating this dish, called toshikoshi soba, is thought to help people let go of the negativity of the previous year and welcome a sweeter one in its place.
Wine isn’t the only way to enjoy grapes on New Year’s Eve. In Spain and many Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico, twelve grapes are eaten after the clock strikes twelve o’clock as a means of ushering in a sweet New Year and warding away evil.
Pork and Sauerkraut
In Germany and many German influenced-cultures, like the Pennsylvania Dutch, pork and sauerkraut are eaten on New Year’s Eve or Day. The cabbage used to make sauerkraut is thought to represent money you’ll attract in the New Year, while pigs represent good luck—the same thinking behind the marzipan pigs also eaten in Germany at this time of year.
While King Cake is often thought to be a Mardi Gras tradition, in Mexico, Rosca de Reyes is consumed as part of the New Year’s celebration. This oval or circular cake generally contains a plastic Jesus or other trinket, and whoever finds it is thought to have ensured their good luck throughout the coming year.
You might just find yourself feeling lucky in 2018 if you snack on some lentils after midnight on New Year’s Eve. In Greece, these round legumes are thought to represent the coins that will fill your pockets in the coming year.
Want to have a richer New Year? Feast on fish. In Scandinavia, Germany, and Poland, pickled herring is thought to bring about wealth if eaten on New Year’s Day.
It’s not like we need too much convincing to eat donuts, but in the Netherlands, oliebollen, literally “oil balls,” are a big part of the New Year’s celebration. Donuts are similarly eaten around New Year’s Day in countries like Poland and Hungary, their oil thought to help the consumer escape evil. Better yet, they’re often served with a glass of champagne—a whole lot more enjoyable than the burnt coffee we usually get with our donuts.
In much of the southern United States, you’ll get some funny looks if you’re not tucking into a plate of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day. This dish combines black eyed peas and rice, and is generally served with collard greens, representing money, and cornbread, representing gold.
In Germany and parts of Scandinavia, don’t count on a happy New Year until you’ve eaten a marzipan pig. This cute confection, known as marzipanschwein and glücksschwein, is eaten on New Year’s to bring luck. And in Norway, the pig is given as a prize to the person who finds the almond in their rice pudding during the holiday season.
Happy New Year, everyone!
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