Global Traditions: What You Eat to Welcome in New Year Matters!

by Corey · 6 comments

In many cultures around the world, it is believed that what you eat as part of your New Year’s celebration will bring good luck or wealth or success or more! Below is a list of foods that have special meanings in different countries. Do you follow any of these traditions?

  • Many believe that anything in the shape of a ring will bring good luck in that it represents having come “full circle.” The Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year’s Day will bring good luck. And in the Philippines you will find people collecting 7 different types of round fruits for the new year. The round shape of the fruits signify money and seven is believed to be a lucky number. The fruits are set on the dinner table and are believed to bring prosperity and sound financial status for the coming year.
  • In the southern United States, it is said that eating black-eyed peas and collard greens will bring you good luck (black-eyed peas) and money (collard greens).
  • In Italy, and a few other countries, for each time the clock chimes at midnight, Italians pop a grape into their mouth, thus ringing in the new year with a mouth full of (twelve) grapes!
  • Late in the evening on December 31st in Buddhist temples in Japan, bowls of buckwheat noodles called “toshikoshisoba” (“year-crossing noodles”) are eaten. At midnight the temple bells are rung 108 times. The sound of these bells is said to purify the listeners of the 108 sins or evil passions that plague every human being.
  • For Denmark, Germany and Poland, fish takes the limelight: In Denmark, the new year is ushered in by eating boiled cod while in Germany and Poland it is believed that eating pickled herring will bring good luck. For the Germans, the pickled herring must be eaten at the stroke of midnight while the Poles say it must simply be the first bite of food in the new year.
  • For the Greeks, as well as a few other cultures, the new year is rung in by eating a cake baked with a coin inside. Whoever finds the prize in their slice is guaranteed a year of good luck!

Happy Multilingual-Multicultural New Year!

What foods will you and your family be eating to ring in the New Year?

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daina December 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm

For Latvians it’s grey peas, often cooked with onions and bacon. They always told me the peas had to be gone by midnight, or else — bad luck in the new year!


2 Corey January 10, 2012 at 12:33 am

Wow, I have never heard of that but it sounds intriguing! Does it taste good? I love the threat of the peas being gone by midnight! LOL! After my husband read this post, he went out and got pickled herring – hah!


3 Jennifer December 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Here in Panama we also eat bread baked in a ring, though i didn’t know the reason! Also oranges for good luck!


4 Corey January 10, 2012 at 12:35 am

Oh right – the whole focus on the ring for good luck/money! I didn’t know about this until researching this post but now it all makes more sense. My husband’s family would always get donuts for New Year’s Eve but he doesn’t do that here anymore since he doesn’t like them very much. We’ll have to find something round to replace them! 😉


5 abbas December 31, 2011 at 10:59 pm

all seem strange for me
we -in Saudi Arabia and I think in all Arab countries- don’t have these kind of meals

happy new year for all


6 Corey January 10, 2012 at 12:35 am

Thank you for your comment, Abbas. How do families in Arab countries celebrate the arrival of a new year? Any special foods? Or special drinks?


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