We Could All Use a Little Luck in the New Year


If Friday the 13th is unlucky, then 2009 makes a lot more sense. We had 3 of them on this year’s calendar– the greatest number possible in a 12 month cycle– and for too many of us, 2009 was a real doozy. In the coming year we see our one and only Friday the 13th in August.

Since you can never have too much good luck, you might want to try some of these good luck foods from New Year’s traditions around the world.

Beans, peas, and lentils are symbolic of prosperity in the new year. Their seed-like appearance is thought to resemble coins that swell when cooked, and they are often paired with pork, which has its own lucky associations, making 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 Japanese soba are often eaten as a symbol of a long life, while round or ring-shaped foods 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 appears frequently on New Years tables; 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. Sweet or sour, the grapes give 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 is considered a poor choice for a new years meal because lobsters move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks, regrets, and dwelling on the past. Chicken and other fowl is also discouraged if you don’t want your good luck to fly away. The Chinese avoid white foods like eggs, cheese, and tofu, because white is the color of death. And never clean your plate— many cultures believe that leaving a little leftover food will usher in a year of plenty and guarantee a stocked pantry.

Even with an auspicious calendar for 2010, a little extra luck never hurt anyone.

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4 Responses to We Could All Use a Little Luck in the New Year

  1. Howard says:

    …avoid eating anything white (huh?)

  2. Lisa says:

    I absolutely love your blog! Great post.

  3. Janice says:

    Just in case, I think I’ll steer clear of the lobster. Happy New Year!

  4. Alexa says:

    What a fun post Janice! I like the way you think. 2009 was more than interesting… I’ll be glad to kiss it goodbye and I look forward to sharing the good luck that 2010 has to bring.

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