In many parts of the world, symbolic New Year Foods are eaten on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day who have important symbolic meanings. They seem to fall into several major categories.
The first class symbolizes financial prosperity. This type of food is round like coins. The second type of New Year’s food symbol represents the hope of having food on the table throughout the year. A third symbol involves eating sweet food in order to have a sweet year. In some countries people bake a coin in a sweet cake and the person who gets the coin will have good luck throughout the year. In Spain, Portugal, and parts of South and Central America, 12 sweet grapes, one for each month of the year, are eaten at midnight. The hope is to eat 12 sweet grapes to have 12 sweet months! Another symbol for good luck involves eating food in a ring shape – like doughnuts or ring shaped cakes. This represents coming full circle to successfully complete the year – that’s good luck.
When staying at Watson Lake Inn for New Year’s brunch, our guest may feast on house cured salmon and bagels, pork and grits, pancakes with house made mascarpone and bacon just to name a few.
Symbolic New Year Foods
- Seek out ring-shaped food such as bagels or doughnuts for breakfast, or try out the Scandinavian kransekaker – which represent not only carby deliciousness, but also the year coming full circle.
- Down some pig. Lots of people consider pork to be the luckiest of all foods to eat on New Year’s Day. Why? Pigs are rotund, which represents prosperity. They also “root forward” with their noses, which is supposed to symbolize progress. You can choose to eat your lucky pig any which way, including ham, sausage, whole roasted suckling pig, ham hocks, bacon, pancetta…
- Smash a pomegranate on the floor. In Greece, when the New Year turns, a pomegranate is smashed on the floor in front of the door to break it open and reveal seeds symbolizing prosperity and good fortune. The more seeds, the more luck.
- Roast whole fish for lunch. Fish are lucky in three ways: their scales resemble coins, they travel in schools, which represents prosperity, and they swim forward, symbolizing progress.
- Slurp soba noodles without breaking them. In Japan, long buckwheat noodles symbolize long life, and are therefore lucky—but only if you eat them without chewing or breaking them. So get your slurping technique down.
- Nosh on greens. They resemble paper money, and who doesn’t want more money next year? Everything from cabbage to kale to your Mesclun salad mix applies here.
- Whip up a batch of Hoppin’ John. This dish of black-eyed peas is customary for New Year’s Day in the American south, where black-eyed peas are considered auspicious based on their resemblance to coins.
- Cook some lentils. Yes, these coin-shaped legumes are lucky in Brazil and Italy, and are said to have been eaten for luck since the Roman times.
We’d love to hear from you what’s eaten for New Years at your table this year in the comments below.
From all of us here at Watson Lake Inn, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.