We all have our little fears and phobias.
We might cringe at spiders, run from clowns, or break into a cold sweat when an airplane takes off. But none are as timeless, universal, and even institutionalized (when’s the last time you stayed on the 13th floor of a hotel?) as the fear of the number 13.
2013 is bringing it out in all of us.
Couples are planning to delay weddings and children for 12 months. Car dealers anticipate a huge drop in demand for the new model year. In Ireland, where the last two digits of the year are always shown on car license plates, the system is being modified for 2013. Four-leaf clovers, gold coins, and a Buddha statue are being installed in Times Square to reassure New Years Eve revellers when the ball drops at midnight.
This seems like a good time to try some of the good luck foods from New Year’s traditions around the world. Superstitious or not, it can’t hurt
- Beans, peas, and lentils
These are symbolic of prosperity in many cultures because they’re thought to resemble coins when they’ve been cooked. Legumes are often paired with pork, which has its own lucky associations, so the combination makes for a most propitious meal. Italians eat sausages and green lentils just after midnight. Germans usually eat their New Years legumes in lentil or split pea soup with sausage. Hoppin’ John, a dish of black-eyed peas cooked with ham, is a tradition in the American south.
Long noodles like are eaten as a symbol of a long life.
- Round or ring-shaped foods
These represent a year coming full circle. Mexicans eat the ring-shaped rosca de reyes cake, the Dutch eat the donut-like ollie bollen, and in Greece, families bake a lucky coin into the round vassilopita cake.
Fish makes frequent appearances on New Years tables. There’s herring at midnight in Poland, boiled cod in Denmark, and the Germans not only feast on carp, they also put fish scales in their wallets for a successful new year. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest.
In Spain it’s traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the coming year. The taste— sweet or sour— gives a clue to the character of each of the coming months. Spanish state television broadcasts the New Years chimes and nearly 4 million pounds of grapes (in little 12 grape packets) are sold in the last week of the year.
What Not to Eat
Lobster and crab: these are poor choices for a new years meal because they scuttle sideways and backwards which can lead to setbacks, regrets, and dwelling on the past.
Chicken: you don’t want your good luck to fly away.
White foods: the Chinese avoid eggs, cheese, and tofu, because white is the color of death.
And never clean your plate.
A little leftover food will usher in a year of plenty and guarantee a stocked pantry.