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Lucky Foods for the New Year

By Alana Sugar, December 30, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

Chinese-Style Longevity Noodles

Chinese-Style Longevity Noodles

Growing up in Louisiana, New Year’s Day was all about the black-eyed peas. If I didn’t eat them, I was sheer out of luck — not just for the day, but for the entire year! Adding collard greens to the mix ensured I would be even luckier. Both were touted as providing a year of good fortune, good health and a long life to follow. Naturally, I forced down every bite I could manage! I’ll bet if I had Black-Eyed Pea Nachos or Paprika Chicken with Smashed Black-Eyed Peas, I would have met my good fortune with a considerable amount of ease. Cultures around the world have long held superstitious beliefs about certain foods considered to be good luck, usually because they represent abundance, prosperity and longevity. What’s so awesome about this tradition is that many of these foods are healthy, delicious and easily accessible. Here are some of my favorite “good luck” foods: 

  • Black-Eyed Pea NachosLENTILS, like my Louisiana black-eyed peas, are another lucky legume. According to tradition and because they resemble tiny coins, they symbolize wealth and financial rewards when consumed. For the New Year in Italy, it’s customary to eat sausages with lentils after midnight. In Brazil, lentils and rice, or lentil soup is the first meal of the New Year. In Germany, pork and lentils are a common good-luck meal. You can feast on lentils with Warm Kale and Lentil Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Lentil Sloppy Joes, and Lentil Butternut Squash and Collard Pie.
  • LONG NOODLES are an important staple food in China, Japan and other Asian countries.  They are considered very lucky because of their length. Bringing in the New Year with a steaming bowl of long noodles represents longevity! I absolutely love Asian noodles. Try Chinese-Style Longevity Noodles, Chicken Soba Noodle Soup and Green Curry Chicken with Rice Noodles, which feature a variety of long noodles.
  • WHOLE FISH is considered a good luck food in Chinese celebrations. Could it be because the Chinese word for abundance sounds almost exactly like the Chinese word for fish? Cooking a whole fish is not as difficult as you might think. This Chinese-Style Whole Fish will get you started.
  • Roasted Anaheim Chile CornbreadGREENS are lucky because they’re the same color as cold hard cash! In Europe and the US, people eat greens on New Year’s Day. According to tradition, the more you eat, the wealthier (and healthier) you’ll become. Get “green” and gorgeous this New Year with Spinach Cakes, Winter Greens Pesto (served over long noodles, of course), Super Grains and Greens, and Mushroom and Chard Bruschetta.
  • CORNBREAD is a favorite every month of every year, but is especially important on New Year’s Day in the Southern US. Its golden-yellow color represents wealth. Have you tried our Roasted Anaheim Chili Cornbread or our Whole Wheat Cornbread Muffins?
  • ROUND FRUIT like grapes, tangerines and pomegranate seeds symbolize good luck in many parts of the world. The round shape represents coins, and their colors (green, gold and red) symbolize cash, coins and the human heart. If you enjoy pomegranates, you’ll appreciate Bulgur with Arugula, Pomegranate and Hazelnuts. If tangerines appeal to you, serve our Fennel and Tangerine Salad as a side dish to a great meal. If it’s grapes you’re after, try our good-luck Roasted Salmon and Grapes.

Do you have a favorite good-luck food you eat on New Year’s Day?  I’d love to know.




Bethany says ...
I have always been subjected to Pork and Kraut I really do not like kraut much anymore due to the fact that it bothers my stomach reading this article and looking into some of the good luck dishes puts a new meaning on changing the tradition of kraut and pork unless someone has a really good recipe that would not affect my stomach as bad!
12/30/2013 12:17:38 PM CST
R Allan Hagman says ...
In north west Ohio pork and sauerkraut
12/30/2013 4:04:28 PM CST
Jennifer says ...
In the south, you have to eat black eyed peas. They' re goooood, too. And I also make collard greens and cornbread, but didn't know they are good luck as well.
12/30/2013 4:06:28 PM CST
Jim says ...
In the good Ole South, I was raised on pork of some kind, black-eyed peas, turnip greens and cornbread all for good luck, prosperity and wealth for the New Year. Like so many, had to force it all down as a child but came to like and eat with ease.as an adult. In fact to ensure my daughters and their families had the New Year good luck, as a tradition, always fixed the New Year meal. Glad to hear of other options and ideas from around the world. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!!!
12/30/2013 4:16:04 PM CST
Kelly says ...
In our family we always had some form of cabbage, either slaw or cooked cabbage and meatballs with veggies. Sometimes my Mother would have both, she said you could never have to much luck.....
12/30/2013 4:51:01 PM CST
Tim says ...
black eyed peas! mix with greens or corn bread or stewed tomatoes or serve just by themselves - no matter what they are paired with, or even just solo, always are symbolic of good luck when eaten on New Year's Day.
12/30/2013 4:53:58 PM CST
Cindy says ...
Pork and sauerkraut - cut an apple up and add along with a little brown sugar and caraway seeds to the kraut and cook over low heat for at least an hour. One eats pork because unlike animals that scratch backwards in the dirt, pigs root forward, and one wants to go forward into the new year.
12/30/2013 5:20:37 PM CST
Carol says ...
I'm from Pennsylvania, and it was almost a state law that you had to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day to insure good luck in the coming year. I don't like sauerkraut "straight" so I add a little applesauce, brown sugar, butter, and diced onion to mine and heat it in a casserole dish in the oven. Always served with pork roast and mashed potatoes. Yum!
12/30/2013 5:55:39 PM CST
Colette Kokron says ...
Pork and sauerkraut from my husband's Polish side and pork pies from my mother's French Canadian roots.
12/30/2013 6:05:30 PM CST
LolaBlanche says ...
The Cuban tradition is 12 grapes at midnight the 31st !
12/30/2013 7:24:04 PM CST
grace l perkins says ...
These are wonderful. It didn't occur to you to send them out a little earlier so we would have time to plan and shop. Pity. Happy New Year, g
12/30/2013 7:42:10 PM CST
Jill Wagner says ...
My mother-in-law was from Ireland an she had to have cabbage on New Years Day for good luck. That was the first time I had heard of food as good luck for the year. On Christmas day who ever fished or served the almond out of the mashed potatoes or what ever my mother put it in was blessed but we never had good luck! I made stuffed cabbage leaves with what ever was fashionable at the time: could be a tofu based stuffing or meat. Tomato juice not sauce over, so it was light not dramatic. I love the notion of long noodles for longevity!
12/30/2013 9:08:16 PM CST
Kim F says ...
Banga Cauda from the Italian side of the family and Corned Beef and Cabbage from the English side!
12/30/2013 10:25:14 PM CST
Andrea says ...
Eastern European customs always included pork, sauerkraut, pickled herring, BUT NO CHICKEN, CRAB OR LOBSTER because they move backwards or scratch backwards, and it's a sign of setbacks, and anything round (fruit,breads,etc)because they symbolize life coming full circle and eternity. Happy New Year!
12/30/2013 10:47:57 PM CST
Sharon Esmont says ...
In my late husband's Polish family it was good luck to eat pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes on New Year's Day. My father was from Tennessee and his family always had whipperwill or crowder peas as their lucky charm for the New Year. So I would serve all four items on the 1st day of each year.
12/30/2013 11:32:27 PM CST
Elizabeth Joslin says ...
Usually what we eat for New Years or for good luck is what most southern people eat in USA. We also eat them during the year. My family eats good ole Black Eye Peas, cornbread, pork ribs with a few snips of rosemary and sauerkraut mixed in with the ribs after they are done. We also fresh green spinach and the colored lettuce with onions and tomatoes and iced tea with lemon and lime and fresh mint leaves. I have also liked the meal with a small green salad with the tomatoes and onions and fried bacon broken into small pieces, and lots of herbs like basil and fennel sprinkled over the salad with some lemon squeezed on top. I also have grown fond of hot herbal teas that take the place of the coffee I use to drink. I found the tea has a much better taste and leaves me with a smooth after taste. I use splenda sweetener and no milk or cream. I think a person should try to bring their own good luck on and not depend on fate. Deep faith also helps with lots of good prayers and good clean living.
12/31/2013 3:54:31 AM CST
Gail Green says ...
In Mississippi a tradition is to eat hog jowls New Year's Day.
12/31/2013 4:33:27 AM CST
kyle samperton says ...
so glad you have done this!!
12/31/2013 5:45:35 AM CST
M Johnson says ...
Growing up in Western Maryland,(Allegany and Garrett Counties) with its PA Dutch influence, New Years meal was always pork and sauerkraut. It was supposed to bring good luck.
12/31/2013 6:48:39 AM CST
Jeannie says ...
Cabbage! And of course, black-eyed peas, and greens (collard, turnip or just good ol' spinach)!
12/31/2013 7:50:35 AM CST
Miriam P. says ...
In South American, you eat 12 grapes at the stroke of Midnight on New Years's Eve for luck in the new year.
12/31/2013 7:54:38 AM CST
Gloria Kelly says ...
Herring is a "must have" good luck food on New Year's Day. This is a Czech tradition.
12/31/2013 10:03:18 AM CST
Janine Fitzgerald says ...
Please edit your comments better. I believe the term is 'sheer out of luck', not shear , which means to cut hair or wool.
12/31/2013 10:47:00 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JANINE - Thanks for catching that! We have updated the spelling.
12/31/2013 11:31:47 AM CST
Cynthia says ...
Fun to read about these food traditions, eating some pickled herring brings good luck and prosperity, in my home - a German tradition.
12/31/2013 11:35:51 AM CST