New Year’s Eve traditions aren’t strictly limited to counting down from 10 and popping bottles when the ball drops. After all, the Times Square NYE Ball—synonymous with the start of a fresh calendar year—has only been around since 1907.
Long before the glittering bulb in the heart of the Big Apple existed, revelers around the world created their own traditions to welcome luck and love into the next year of their lives. In Denmark, they “jump” into the new year off of chairs at the stroke of midnight. And in Venezuela they wear yellow underwear on the outsides of their clothes for good luck in the upcoming season. But the one thing that nearly every culture shares: Lucky New Year’s Eve foods.
Make 2016 the best year yet by cooking up these tasty treats and chowing down as the clock strikes 12.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, greens represent . . . green . . . As in cash. It’s believed that the more greenery one eats—whether it’s kale, spinach, collard greens, or cabbage—the more wealth the following year will bring. Even if this one doesn’t have a magic effect on bank accounts everywhere, we’re still in favor of encouraging people to nosh on veggies!
Just like greens, round, coin shaped beans and lentils are popular around the first of the year because they represent money. Black eyed peas with rice are particularly popular in the American south, while green and red lentils are the legume of choice for Italians.
Popular in Spain and Mexico, partiers eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight—one to represent every month of the year. It’s said that if a grape is sour, the corresponding month will be a rotten one. The goal is to swallow (and chew!) every grape by the last ring of the bell… But in some countries a 13th lucky grape is consumed, too.
Anyone who’s ever taken Art History 101 knows that the plumper the person depicted, the wealthier they were considered. Because food was a luxury, if someone could eat enough food to actually get fat, then they must be rolling in the dough. (Hopefully not literally.) It’s the same reason that rotund, fatty pork is eaten for New Year’s Eve—the animal represents prosperity. They also root forward with their noses when scavenging, like they’re looking forward into the future, making them a better choice for your New Year’s feast than poultry, which scratches backward.
Slurp up noodles, particularly buckwheat soba noodles, without breaking them to ensure a long life and a healthy year. We love any excuse to carb-load, especially if it means that the longer the noodles, the longer your lifespan!
It seems like a good idea to gobble up some of these healthy and lucky foods, especially if your party plans involve imbibing in spirits. Try sipping on our anti-hangover cocktail while you eat to ensure that you start 2016 feeling ready—and #blessed.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho
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