Around the world, certain foods and dishes are eaten on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to symbolize wealth, good fortune, and long life—from savory stews to fresh fruit and sweet cakes.
Pick your favorite lucky foods from the recipes below and serve a feast to share with your friends and loved ones. It’s a tasty way to guarantee a great start to the coming year.
Pork and Sauerkraut
Pork in any form, whether it’s a roast, sausage, or even bacon, symbolizes prosperity and forward motion. Meanwhile, the long strands of cabbage, the base of sauerkraut, stand in for the green in dollar bills. Make a slow cooker kielbasa and sauerkraut stew for good luck on New Year’s Day.
Black-Eyed Peas, Greens, and Cornbread
Three types of money are represented in this dish, traditionally eaten across the South on New Year’s Day. The round peas (a type of bean) symbolize coins, leafy greens symbolize green bills, and cornbread is the color of gold. Make a classic Southern Hoppin’ John with collards and serve with a side of skillet cornbread.
According to Spanish tradition, eating 12 grapes as the clock chimes midnight on New Year’s Eve will bring you 12 months of good luck. For an easy way to taste this tradition, add grapes to your New Year’s party cheeseboard or serve in a side dish with Brussels sprouts (which, as mini cabbages, can bring extra luck).
In Greece, smashing a pomegranate on the floor to release the seeds is the surefire way to bring good luck. The seeds of the pomegranate represent abundance and fertility, and the more seeds you see, the luckier you’ll be. Instead of smashing your pomegranate, use the seeds in a refreshing salad.
Fish stand for progress and prosperity, because they swim forward and swim together in large schools—and more is always better when it comes to good luck. Fish also get one more bonus element: Their scales represent coins for wealth. A quick broiled tilapia dinner is an easy, good-for-you way to get the benefits.
Noodles and Rice
Chinese New Year is typically celebrated with a bowl of longevity noodles, where the long strands are left unbroken to ensure a long life. As with many other lucky foods, the small grains of rice symbolize money, and their abundant growth represents fertility. Make your favorite noodle or rice stir-fry to boost the odds of good fortune.
Ring-shaped cakes such as Bundts are a way to celebrate the act of coming full circle from the previous year, and to ring in the New Year in a sweet tradition. Kind of like the Mardi Gras king cake tradition, baking a coin into the cake brings more luck for the recipient who finds it in their slice. Just warn your guests before they take a bite.