The start of a new year, like final exams and the big game, makes even non-believers a little superstitious. 1/1 is a day steeped in tradition and symbolic ceremony throughout the world. On New Year’s Eve in Japan, people clean their homes properly if the new year’s god fails to visit them. To ward off the old and welcome the new, the Dutch light bonfires made from their Christmas trees. In Scotland, having a tall, dark, and gorgeous guy be the first person to enter your home after the clock strikes midnight is considered lucky. (That’s considered lucky any night of the year where I come from.)
Many of the world’s most enduring New Year’s traditions revolve around food, with certain dishes serving as emblems of the eater’s future hopes and wishes. Foods that represent riches, prosperity, forward mobility, long life, and other various wonderful things that might (ideally) happen to a person in the next year are recurring themes here.
Here are some ways to eat for good luck on New Year’s online gifts Day if you want to receive some good juju next year.
Make a Happy New Year cake out of a coin. This is the second Greek tradition on our list. It features a special lemon-flavored cake called a vasilopita baked with a coin inside (yet another money-related tradition!). Whoever finds the coin will have good fortune for a year. It’s either that or a chipped tooth.
At midnight, eat twelve grapes. To commemorate the twelve months of the new year, the Spanish and Portuguese eat twelve grapes when the clock strikes twelve times at midnight. It’s worth noting that eating grapes this quickly isn’t as simple as it appears.
Seek out ring-shaped food for breakfast. Consider bagels or doughnuts for breakfast (don’t you always?), representing carby’s deliciousness and the year coming full circle.
Put some pig down. Pork is widely regarded as the luckiest of all meats to consume on New Year’s Day. Why? Pigs are chubby, a symbol of wealth (not, as it turns out, weight gain). They also use their noses to “root forward,” which is believed to represent progress. You can consume your lucky pig in various ways, including ham, sausage, entire roasted suckling pig, ham hocks, bacon, pancetta, etc.
Pomegranates should be smashed on the floor. (And why would you throw away a perfectly excellent piece of fruit?) When the new year arrives in Greece, a pomegranate is crushed on the floor in front of the entrance, revealing seeds that represent prosperity and good fortune. The more seeds you have, the better your chances are.
Roasted Whole Fish
For lunch, roast a whole fish. Fish are considered lucky for three reasons: their scales mimic coins, they travel in schools, which symbolizes prosperity, and they swim ahead, which denotes development. This choice also comes with the added benefit of sticking to your New Year’s nutritional resolutions.
Soba noodles should be slurped without breaking. Long buckwheat noodles are auspicious in Japan because they symbolize long life—but only if you eat them without chewing or breaking them. So practice your slurping technique.
Greens are delicious. They look like paper money, and who doesn’t desire extra money the next year? Here you can use anything from cabbage to kale to your Mesclun salad mix.
Toss together a batch of Hoppin’ John. In the American south, where black-eyed peas are considered lucky due to their likeness to coins, this dish of black-eyed peas and rice is traditional for New Year’s Day.
Lentils should be cooked. Can you figure out what lentils look like? Money! These coin-shaped beans are considered auspicious in Brazil and Italy and have been consumed for good luck since Roman times.