Call it superstition, call it a crock, call it what you will, but every New Year’s millions of people the world-over eat foods traditionally thought to bring good luck throughout the coming year.
In Spain and Portugal, twelve grapes are eaten at the stroke of midnight. Each grape signifies each month of the year, while the grapes symbolize round coins and the sweetness of success. In many other countries eating any round-shaped fruit is customary – oranges, grapefruit, melons, etc.
In China, Japan, and other Asian countries, long noodles are eaten for good luck. The noodles signify longevity.
In Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria, anything pig goes. It is believed because pigs never naturally move backward, and they root with their snouts in a forward-moving motion, they symbolize moving forward, or progress if you will. If you don’t eat pork don’t worry – eating anything shaped like a pig will do. Some people fashion cute pigs out of marzipan or make cookies using pig-shaped cookie cutters.
Eating a whole fish is another good luck food. Leaving the head and tail intact to ensures a good year, from start to finish.
In Greece, a pomegranate is smashed on the floor in front of the door. The scattered seeds symbolize prosperity and good fortune. In Turkey, pomegranates represent good luck for many reasons. Their red colour symbolize life and fertility; their seeds represent prosperity, and their nutritional value represents health.
Eating greens – including kale, collards and cabbage on New Year’s Day is considered lucky in Southern U.S. states and many countries in Europe. Leafy greens resemble cash in colour and appearance. Eat up! Greens are healthy too!
Many people in the Southern American states consider black-eyed peas to be the harbinger of good luck on New Years because of their penny-like appearance and abundance. But, as many Bermudians will tell you, black-eyed peas are also a traditional favourite New Year’s food on ‘de rock’ too! Can you taste the Peas n’ Rice?
Said to be eaten for luck since the Roman times, Italians traditionally eat lentils on New Years Day. The coin-shaped legumes are considered lucky in both Brazil and Italy, and in Italy, a popular New Year’s meal in Italy is Cotechino con Lenticchie (green lentils with sausage).
Resembling gold in colour, cornbread is another New Year’s goody. We love cornbread anytime of the year, but bake up a batch for New Year’s – it’s the perfect side for Split Pea & Ham or our Lentil Soup. Try this deliciously moist and sweet cornbread recipe from allrecipes.com – Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread. With a Five-Star Rating and thousands of reviews, this cornbread is worth baking!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
16 oz. lentils (about 1-1/4 cups)
11 cups chicken broth (regular or low-sodium)
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes – including juice. Simmer about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the lentils and stir. Add the chicken broth and the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat and then cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
- Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but al dente, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- To serve: ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.