Eat for Prosperity and Luck: New Year’s Traditions

Many thanks to Melissa Bennett for this Guest Post!

With New Year’s fast approaching, I thought that I would share some interesting New Year’s traditions. Now, I don’t mean the ball (or peach, if you live in Georgia) dropping at midnight or the fireworks seen across the country–I mean food!

Southerners, of course, celebrate by eating greens and black-eyed peas. But, what do others across the country, outside of the South, eat?

Well, that is a very hard question to answer.  Any suggestions?

Even though I couldn’t figure out if northerners, westerners, etc. had any New Year’s food traditions, I learned that Americans eat certain foods on New Year’s based on their culture. Also, around the world, people eat certain food on New Year’s for one common goal—to increase prosperity and luck!

The most common foods eaten on New Year’s are grapes, greens, legumes, fish, pork and cakes.

In Spain, twelve grapes are consumed for every stroke of the clock at midnight. Each grape represents one of the twelve upcoming months. So, if the fifth grape is sour, May might be a rocky month!

Greens, such as cabbage and collards, are eaten in many parts of the world. Why? Well, the leaves look like folded money and are a symbol of economic fortune.

Legumes, which include my favorite black-eyed peas, are a popular New Year’s dish because they resemble coins and are also a symbol of wealth. One interesting idea—eat one pea for each day of the New Year!

Eating pork on New Year’s is popular in the U.S, Spain, Cuba, Austria and Hungary because pigs symbolize progress. Pigs move forward by rooting themselves into the ground before moving. Also, since pork is rich in fat content, it symbolizes wealth and prosperity.

Some compare fish to the turkey on Thanksgiving. Eating fish on New Year’s dates all the way back to the middle ages! Fish represents many things, even a long life.

Lastly, cakes are eaten because they symbolize luck. For instance, in Greece, a round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside. The person that finds the coin has good luck all year.

So, black-eyed peas aren’t the only food cooked on New Year’s. What foods do you eat on New Year’s? Why?

This post was written by Melissa Bennett.  Melissa has joined the Peas for Prosperity team to help write posts and gain sponsorships. She is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia, with degrees in public relations and history, which will be great contributions to Peas for Prosperity! She lives in Woodstock, GA and is an account coordinator at Scholz Communications and a public relations freelancer. She loves history and is excited to learn more about


By Christy • 12/02/2010 • 10:29 AM

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