It is a common tradition between cultures to await the new year with hearts full of hope and great wishes. We wish every year that the year ahead is one that is full of great news, love that never ends, fortune, and laughter. As interesting as it can get, many cultures believe they guarantee a joyful year by eating their lucky foods before the clock strikes midnight.
You read that right, some cultures have what is known as lucky foods. Dishes that are believed to bring good luck and give sadness and sorrows a wide berth. Many, if not all, of them, are old wives’ tales or ones that have been somehow related to mythical legends. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that older generations did their best to keep the tradition going.
Luck is a big word that we all live and long for. Over the years, people have created traditions that they believe ensure the bringing of good fortune. If you happen to come from a culture where food is believed to bring luck, then you definitely know what we are talking about. However, there is no harm in learning about those lucky bites that other cultures seem to believe in.
1. 12 Grapes in Spain (Other Spanish-speaking Communities)
According to the Hispanic culture, grapes have the magical potion of turning your year into the life you have always asked for. Grapes are the lucky foods in Spain and other Spanish-speaking communities, including Colombia and Mexico. The tale claims that eating twelve grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve will bring prosperity, joy, and good luck. This number specifically represents each month of the year, so you don’t want to miss a grape or two if you don’t want to experience a couple of months of bad luck.
2. Lentils in Italy
In many parts of the world, lentils are the most famous lucky foods that you need to eat more often to get rich. This notion is especially popular in Italy. The Italians believe that the rounded shapes of lentils pretty much resemble coins. People in ancient Rome used to gift their friends and family members with pouches full of lentils as a wish for them to become wealthy.
3. Soba Noodles in Japan
Noodles are among the foods most consumed in Asian lands. Soba Noodles, in particular, are one that many Asians believe to be among the lucky foods, especially in Japan. The long nature of noodles symbolises longevity in Japan and other Asian communities. They believe that the more noodles you eat, the luckier you will be to have the chance to live a long, healthy life. Thus, most Japanese start their new year by eating soba noodles to ensure they will live for so long.
4. Round Fruit in the Philippines
So, apparently, the whole world seems to celebrate the beginning of a new year with different kinds of foods. Many cultures worship having a New Year’s Eve staple, for it symbolises something in their culture. In the case of Filipinos, all kinds of round fruits are considered to be lucky foods. It is so important to them to start the new year while taking a bite of every big round fruit or having 12 grapes, like in Hispanic culture.
Just like the global symbolism of any rounded object, it resembles the shape of gold, coins, or money in general. Thus, eating rounded objects means having a prosperous year. Besides lucky foods, they have a thing for lucky outfits as well. These outfits should be anything with polka dots all over or any circular shape, and it means that you will have a joyful year ahead.
5. Oliebollen in The Netherlands
Oliebollen is a Dutch word that literally translates into “oily balls.” And, it means doughnuts, but not the shape that is widely known around the world, but rather a small ball bites. They are often referred to as Dutch Doughnuts. This fluffy deep-fried dough is a winter delicacy that is enjoyed all around the Netherlands and Belgium.
Dutch and Belgian people have this tradition of eating oliebollen at midnight before the start of the new year. They believe that these little lucky foods are capable of giving a wide berth to the anarchies of the wicked pagan Goddess, Perchta. This tradition has been ongoing since the 17th century when people used to call those small bites “the careful housekeeper.”
6. Corned Beef and Cabbage in Ireland
Many cultures believe that you should refrain from eating chicken on New Year’s Eve as these animals search for their food in the dirt, which cannot be a fortune bringer. On the other hand, they believe that beef and pork are ought to bring you good luck, and that’s the case in Ireland. The Irish tradition professes that corned beef and cabbage are important lucky foods to consume in the new year.
In fact, it is one of the national dishes in Ireland that makes an appearance on many national holidays, including the holy day of St. Patrick’s. They believe that pork or beef is for good luck, while cabbage, with its light texture and green colour, resembles money. So, your answer to a fortunate life and wealth is this simple, yet quite palatable Irish dish.
7. Pretzels in Pittsburgh
In Pittsburgh, it is a cultural tradition to have pretzels on New Year’s Eve. Not just any pretzel; it has to be large and sweet rather than savoury. Can lucky foods get any more interesting? After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a bite or two of a sweet pretzel? If you happen to be roaming the streets of Pittsburgh on December 31, you will surely come across the smell of fresh pretzels filling the cold air on every corner. So, make sure you quickly grab a freshly baked one before the clock ticks.
8. Pomegranate in Greece (Mediterranean Countries)
If you are in Greece on New Year’s Eve, make sure you smash a pomegranate before midnight. Fruits in many countries are deemed to be lucky foods, but pomegranate in Greece has a much deeper significance in Greek culture. Since ancient Greek times, people have been perceiving this fruit to be the symbol of good fortune, fertility, and healthy life. The red-coloured seeds found inside are a symbol of abundance and generosity as well.
9. Black Eyed Peas in the South of the United States
The notion of black-eyed peas being among the lucky foods dates back to the Civil War. This tradition was birthed during the toughest of times. Enslaved people in the Southern part of America used this food originally for livestock. However, with the escalation of the wars and slavery, people started resorting to this food, believing it would bring them good luck and free them from slavery.
10. Glücksschwein in Austria and Germany
Glücksschwein is a German word that means the lucky pig, and it is a popular meal in Germany and Austria. People in Germany have always perceived pigs or wild boars as symbols of good luck. They thought they were sacred, for they were owned by affluent people, and having pigs meant having privilege. Moreover, the shapes of pigs started to take over everything, including the famous piggy banks to have more luck in earning money.