Certain foods are considered traditional for the New Year meal. The reasons for their inclusion in the tradition may vary, but in the end, each food choice is expected to help ensure good fortune for the New Year. Whether you buy into the concept or not, eating these foods on New Year’s Day can help you create a tradition and at the very least, you will enjoy some tasty treats.
In the United States, especially in the south, Collard Greens are considered part of the traditional New Year’s Day meal. The greens are symbolic of folded money and therefore, of economic fortune.
In other parts of the world, other greens are part of the New Year’s tradition. For instance, sauerkraut is a preferred choice in Germany.
Beans, Peas, and Lentils
Like greens, beans, peas, and lentils are part of the traditional New Year’s Meal because they symbolize money – in this case, coins. Other explanations for eating legumes include the thought that it symbolizes humility and a lack of vanity. Also, because these food expand as they cook they symbolize growing wealth.
Black-eyed peas are a staple for traditional New Year’s meals in the southern part of the U.S. Legumes are often paired up with pork. As you will read below, pork plays its own role in the New Year’s Meal.
When starting the New Year you want to ensure that your year will be filled with progress. Pigs are known to push forward as they root along. In addition, at least in the United States, because pork has a high fat content, it is associated with prosperity. With these things in mind, eating pork on New Year’s Day can help ensure progress as well as wealth and prosperity.
Fish is often served on New Year’s Day (as well as on other festive occasions). For some this relates to religious beliefs and policies, but for others eating fish on this holiday symbolizes good fortune. To some, fish scales resemble coins and because fish swim in groups or in schools, eating fish can symbolize abundance. In Japan, eating dried sardines is thought to increase the chances for a good harvest and consuming shrimp is thought to be associated with a long life.
Although grapes are not usually part of the traditional New Year’s meal in the United States, in Spain grapes play an important role in bringing in the New Year. Twelve grapes are eaten at midnight. Each grape symbolizes a month of the year.
What Shouldn’t Be Included in Your New Year’s Meal
When you prepare a New Year’s Meal with the intent of achieve good fortune in the New Year, it is important to avoid anything that symbolizes regret or setbacks. For that reason lobster should be avoided – lobsters move backward and similarly, chickens scratch in a backward movement. In addition, eating foods that have wings could be interpreted as a bad idea because just as the animal could fly away, so could your luck!
Debbie Allen is a regular contributor to the Package From Santa blog. Besides sharing information about holiday traditions she also writes about ways to save money and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.