With riots of colors erupting into the skies as soon as it is dark or many tuning in to watch the ball drop, many New Year's Eve traditions are staples. Besides the sparkling champagne, noisemakers, glitter, and confetti that almost everyone enjoys, did you know that many have food traditions for New Year?
Many of the foods cooked and served by families across the globe are created in the tradition of bringing good luck, good fortune, and prosperity in the coming year.
Try These Lucky Foods This New Year
This dish is a mix of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork. It originates from the 19th-century African diaspora, South Carolina's Low Country. Hoppin' John has also been traced to similar foods in West Africa, particularly the Senegalese dish called thiebou niebe. While the origins of this meal are steeped in some tragic history, it has evolved to become a reclaimed dish and is considered a lucky meal.
Hoppin' John is a tantalizing taste of Black Southern soul food with African-American flavors, and it is a very comforting meal. To create Hoppin' John, you need a pound of black-eyed peas, chicken stock, red onion, garlic, a bay leaf, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, thyme, chicken bouillon, collards greens, and green onion for garnish.
We encourage you to find this authentic Black Southern recipe and add it to your New Year's lucky food dishes!
Mardi Gras goers and Louisianans start their year with the iconic sweet-ringed king cake. Topped with colorful icing and sprinkles, king cake is baked with a trinket, such as a plastic or ceramic baby or small beans. For some, the tiny baby trinket may represent the newborn baby Jesus, especially if the King Cake is served on the last 12 days of Christmas. For others, the charm is simply part of the king cake tradition, and whoever finds it is deemed the 'king' or 'queen' and said that the person who finds it will enjoy a lucky year.
King cakes are made with butter, milk, sugar, active dry years, eggs, salt, nutmeg, and flour. The filling is usually brown sugar, chopped nuts, flour, cinnamon, and melted butter, and they're topped with a glaze made from water and confectioner's sugar.
Toshikoshi Soba (New Year's Eve Soba)
A traditional Japanese noodle dish that is served on New Year's eve, Toshikoshi Soba is made with buckwheat noodles, hot dashi broth, and a variety of toppings. This dish symbolizes cutting off the past year's hardships and welcoming good luck for the new year. You can serve this dish as simple as you wish with just the noodles, hot dashi broth, and scallions, or you can add different toppings depending on region and household. Typical ingredients include soba noodles, dashi, sake, mirin and sugar, light soy sauce, MSG for umami, and scallions.
You can add these additional toppings as well:
• Shrimp – Representing longevity due to the way shrimp curl, like a spine, as we age
• Grated daikon – For the removal of evil spirits and cutting ties with the bad
• Inari (fried tofu) – For symbolizing the prosperity of business and good fortune
• Scallions or Leeks – Symbolizing the hard work of the year
• Kamaboko – The red symbolizes an amulet and the white for purification
• Eggs – The egg yolk represents good luck, fortune, and prosperity
At its most basic, a tamale is masa dough stuffed with filling, wrapped in a husk or a leaf, and steamed. But ask any Abuela, and they will tell you it is not so simple. Making a tamale takes hours and sometimes days to complete, requiring nimble fingers to wrap palm-sized packages of dough and be present while they steam.
For Latino families and communities around the United States, the holiday season and New Year's is the time to make tamales. And while handmade tamales are a labor of love, they are a fantastic new year's dish that should be added to everyone's celebration.
Tamales and their ingredients differ from region to region, family to family, but they are a reconnection to Latino culture and ancestors.
One of the popular types of tamales features pork. You can add guajillo chiles, garlic, salt, pepper, and many other ingredients to customize the flavor to your liking.
Originating in Spain, it is a tradition to eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight. The tradition, called las doce uvas de la suerte (The Twelve Lucky Grapes). To ensure good luck for the new year, eat one grape for the upcoming twelve months at Nochevieja (midnight, "Old Night") as the old year changes to the new. Eating each one at each stroke of midnight is also a tradition, meaning you have about 12 seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish them in time before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year!
Pork and Sauerkraut
In Germany, many Germans cook and eat pork with sauerkraut on New Year's. Many families have been doing so for generations to bring good luck (viel glück) for the coming year. Many Germans migrated to different parts of the world, bringing this tradition with them. You might not know, but in Ohio and Pennsylvania, many German immigrants settled there, and this tradition is still going strong.
The legend behind this dish is that the pork is a symbol of good luck because pigs are always looking forward as they root for food, unlike chickens and turkeys that scratch backward. It is also believed that Germans used to wish each other as many riches as there were shreds of cabbage in the sauerkraut they ate.
This is another delicious but straightforward New Year's meal to make, as you can use your favorite pork sausages and jarred sauerkraut for a comforting and tasty tradition.
Oranges and Other Citrus
The Chinese New Year begins at the new moon that falls between the 21st of January and the 20th of February. During that time, one of the traditional foods to eat are oranges, kumquats, tangerines, and pomelos. The Chinese word for tangerine sounds like "luck," and the word for orange sounds like "wealth." These fruits are prized for both table display and gift-giving during the Lunar New Year.
No matter which tradition you enjoy or will try this year; we're ready to help you! We hope you enjoy your New Year's and wish you the best of luck this year and every year after!