The Different Food Traditions of New Years Day

Ham is often a¬†holiday centerpiece, but pork is specifically thought to bring good luck on New Year’s Day. So why is pork a New Year’s food tradition?

First, it has to do with the way pigs behave differently than other animals. According to some theorists, while chickens and turkeys scratch backward, a pig buries his snout into the ground and moves forward‚ÄĒin the same direction you want to head in the new year. Another reason is logistics: Pigs are traditionally slaughtered in late fall, which makes pork an ideal choice to set aside for celebrating the new year. Finally, pork (and cabbage) eaten on New Year’s is a German and Eastern European tradition brought to America by early settlers. Start your new year off right with these Barbecue Pork Sandwiches With Crunchy Coleslaw.

Rice is a staple of New Year’s celebrations in Asia‚ÄĒand in the South, where it’s paired with red beans for Hoppin’ John, which is served on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to bring prosperity and luck. It’s associated with prosperity and good luck, and in India, it’s believed it can take away bad omens. You could try a simple¬†red beans and rice recipe, or serve it up Asian style with a chicken congee.

Fish is another common dish on plates around the world on New Year’s‚ÄĒespecially in cultures close to water. For example, in Scandinavian countries, herring was considered a harbinger of good fortune, especially as the silver-scaled fish called to mind valuable money. Herring, heavily traded, was also essential to the country’s prosperity. Eating herring was a way to hope for a good catch in the months to come because herring had unpredictable migration patterns, and a good year didn’t necessarily indicate the next year would be as successful. Today, herring still symbolizes good fortune, making it an excellent option for a New Year’s appetizer.

In China, Japan, and many other Asian countries, it’s customary to serve and eat noodles on New Year’s Day. Their length symbolizes longevity‚ÄĒso make sure not to break or shorten the noodles during the cooking process. Serve¬†soba noodles, udon, sesame stir-fried noodles, or try this delicious recipe for Spicy Coconut Noodles.

In Filipino culture, New Year’s Eve is traditionally celebrated with 12 types of fruit. They choose 12 specifically to symbolize each month. Filipinos tend to prefer round fruits, but¬† mangoes¬† and watermelon¬† also make the cut. In Mexico, grapes are eaten at midnight to symbolize the year ahead. In China and other Asian countries, oranges are prized for their round shape and gold-like hue as a representation of good fortune. Throughout the world, pomegranates, a symbol of fertility and birth, are eaten at the new year. A jewel-toned slice of Pomegranate-Almond Toast is an easy and delicious way to start the New Year on the right foot.

Dumplings are a pan-culture holiday favorite, with every country having their own take on it. Dumplings are a big part of Lunar New Year celebrations, as their shape resembles money bags. You’re encouraged to eat plenty of dumplings, to help bring you wealth and good fortune in the New Year.

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