Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year foods that bring good fortune

A new year begins January 1 and this gives us the opportunity to make a clean start. 
There are certain foods that are believed to be "lucky foods" and may increase the odds that next year will be a profitable one. 
Traditions differ around the world, but there are still similarities in what's eaten in different parts of the world.

There seems to be six categories of foods that are all shared in common:
grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes.

New Year's in Spain eat twelve grapes at midnight—one grape for each stroke of the clock.
The idea is, each grape represents a different month, and let's say the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a a tough month.
And if the seventh grape is really sweet, July should be a great month.

Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are eaten on New Year's in different countries because their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune.
The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It's widely believed that the more greens one eats the bigger the fortune.

Beans, peas, and lentils also represent money. 
In Italy, it's traditional to eat cotechino con lenticchie.  Germans also eat legumes and pork, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage. 
Pork and beans another favorite, may gave the same benefits. 
In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame.

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin' john. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. But because black-eyed peas were found, and Vicksburg was able to eat, legumes were considered lucky.

PORK, the fat of the land:
The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the thinking 
That pigs represent progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year's in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria.
Pork dishes such as pig's feet are eaten in Sweden while Germans devour roast pork and sausages.
Pork, because of its rich fat content, signifies wealth and prosperity. 

Cakes and other baked goods are eaten from Christmas to New Year's everywhere.
Many of these are round/ring-shaped foods. 
Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands eat donuts, and Holland has ollie bollen, puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.

We want to go on the record by saying, we like doughnuts too.

Some cultures hide a special trinket or coin inside a cake, and the one who finds it will be lucky in the new year. 
Mexico's rosca de reyes is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside. In Greece, a special round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside. 
Sweden and Norway have this ritual in which they hide a whole almond in rice pudding, whoever finds the nut is guaranteed great fortune in the new year.

In Germany, it's traditional to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry throughout the New Year.

In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it's believed that eating herring at midnight will guarantee a year of plenty because herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles coins, a good omen for fortune. 
They swim in schools and always move forward, so eating fish, especially whole fish, will help you move forward in 2012. 

Cornbread is big as a New Year's food in the southern states.
The color resembles that of gold. To ensure extra luck, some people add extra corn kernels, which look like golden nuggets.

On New Year's Eve, many Japanese eat toshikosi soba to bring luck. The length of the noodles represents long life.
In the Philippines  pancit (noodles) are cooked to signify long life, as are eggs signifying new life. Traditional delicacies made from malagkit (glutinous or sticky rice) like biko are prepared — that’s so good fortune will stick around throughout the year. 

There is one tradition related to food and this is serving 12 (or is it 13) kinds of round fruits during New Year celebration. Each fruit represents one month in the coming year and the round shape is believed to bring good luck for that month. This is a tradition that is still being followed up to now. Filipinos are still so much into this that prices of round fruits during Christmas season goes up because of the demand.
The fruit that Filipinos most associate with the celebration of the new year are grapes.