Traditional Foods for New Years Celebrations

The New Year is coming faster than you might expect (how is it already December?)! It is an exciting time to celebrate and be hopeful for new opportunities and goals yet to be accomplished. Like any other holiday, the New Year is something that many of us celebrate differently in our own way, with various traditional foods and dishes that bring luck and hope for what’s to come.

The traditional American-style celebration of the New Year is on December 31st, New Year’s Eve, into the early hours of January 1st. Typical celebrations include attending parties, setting off fireworks, spending time with close friends and family, determining goals for the new year, and grabbing a kiss when the Times Square ball drops. Of course, a major part of the celebration is the food! 

A classic American tradition is a champagne toast at midnight to bring in the new year. But did you know that there are traditional dishes served as well, sometimes paired with champagne? In the Southern parts of the United States, a dish commonly eaten on New Year’s Eve is called the Hoppin’ John. This dish is eaten at midnight and each ingredient has symbolic importance. Classically included ingredients in the Hoppin’ John are pork, beans, and collard greens, which promise a deal of luck, wealth, and romance in the upcoming new year. Saving and enjoying the leftovers in the following days is associated with frugality and even better luck!

Food traditions aren’t limited to the United States, however. In the Longevity Regions and beyond, people all around the world use food as part of a celebration for a good year to come. 

In Italy, it is a tradition to consume lentils just after midnight. The reasoning behind this goes back to ancient Roman times, where Romans would gift loved ones a Scarsella (a leather purse full of lentils). The hope was that these lentils would turn into gold coins. Even if your lentils don’t turn to gold, they now symbolize prosperity, wealth, luck, and abundance in Italian culture. The more lentils consumed, the better opportunities you will have in the new year.

In Spain, people consume a dozen grapes right before midnight. These 12 grapes symbolize prosperity and good luck for the upcoming new year. According to the superstition, each grape is one month, and failure to consume all 12 grapes in time will lead to bad luck and misfortune in the new year.

In Germany, it is a tradition to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. This meal is believed to bring good luck and good fortune for the year ahead. Pork is on the menu because pigs root forward, something folks want to imitate as they move forward into the new year. Pork is paired with sauerkraut because it is believed that the shreds of kraut symbolize wealth, and the more traces of kraut, the more wealth one will experience in the upcoming new year.

In Japan, the most common New Year’s tradition is consuming soba. Soba is a type of noodle that many Japanese people eat regularly that is believed to symbolize “breaking off the old year.” It is also said that the long, thin shape of the noodle symbolizes crossing from one year to the next. Soba is an easily digestible buckwheat noodle that serves many healthful benefits beyond the Japanese cultural belief.

At Nutrition for Longevity, we create meals that are inspired by regions all over the world. As many heritages and cultures eat entirely different foods, we strive to include various ingredients to make our consumers happy and provide them with the most optimal nutritional benefits. For example, we have meals inspired by the culture of Okinawa, Japan like our Teriyaki Vegetables with Chicken. As our menu rotates and changes every week, we strive to feature meal ideas from all over the world. And who knows, maybe our meals will bring you prosperity in the new year!

Have a wonderful start to 2022 everyone!