An aside: when I was chatting with my local butcher about the cut of pork to use for my recipe, he shared he always stocks a lot of ham hocks at this time of year due to this dish. He also shared in the Japanese community it is customary to eat mochi, a pounded rice cake, first thing New Year’s Day for good luck!
I was intrigued about the international food customs to kick off the New Year and found some others I wanted to share with you. I’d love to hear of any food customs you practice to set your new year off with luck and promise!
Spain, Portugal and former Spanish colonies in South America: 12 grapes eaten at the stroke of midnight New Year’s eve; believing if a grape is sour, the month associated with that grape (e.g. if it is the third gape, the month of March) will be not so good.
Denmark: The New Year’s menu includes boiled cod. The fish is believed lucky as their scales look like silver.
Germany: Eating sauerkraut (cabbage) believing the green symbolizes prosperity. Carp is often part of the New Year’s Eve meal as it is believed to bring wealth. Herring is believed to bring good luck!
Holland: Ollie Bollen, a doughnut-like fritter is believed to be good luck because it has a round shape like coins.
Italy: Round foods (symbolizing coins or wealth) are also popular in Italy. Cotechino conlenticchie, or green lentils and sausage, is eaten after midnight for good luck.
Armenia: A flat bread, Darin, with a coin often hidden inside is eaten. The recipient will be very lucky for the coming year!
Brazil: First meal of the New Year is lentil soup (the roundness of the lentils mirroring the wealth of coins).
France: Eat a stack of crepes for good luck and good health for the coming year.
Bosnia and Croatia: Sarma, minced beef rolled in cabbage leaves is believed to bring health and wealth.
Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria: Serve pork symbolizing wealth and prosperity.
Hungary, and the Netherlands: Eat donuts, believing the round shape to represent a full circle or prosperity.
Japan: Along with the mochi, soba noodles are served symbolizing long life.
Poland: Pickled herring eaten first thing is believed to offer good luck for the coming year.
Mexico: They eat Rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside!
Sweden and Norway: Hide a whole almond in rice pudding and whoever gets it will have good luck for the next year.
Greece:It is traditional to eat Vasilopita, a sponge cake, with a coin baked inside. The person to find the coin is sure to have a lucky year!
Seems as well that lobster (swims backwards) and chicken (scratches backwards) is to be avoided on New Year’s Day, believed this backward behavior leads to ‘set backs’! And New Year’s Day is not the best day to become a member of the ‘clean plate club’. Many cultures believe leaving some food on the plate signifies having full pantries for the upcoming year.