Copenhagen MarketCabbage - ©

‘Lucky’ Dishes: To Serve On New Year’s Day

There are many New Year’s customs around the world, and many involve food. My Scottish and Northumbrian forebears insisted that one eat some cabbage on New Year’s, to ensure prosperity through the coming year. What do you eat?

Hoppin' John - © Rocky LutenHoppin’ John

The customs are as varied as the cultures whence they come. And they all revolve around prosperity, fertility and abundance…

Hoppin’ John

Black-Eyed Peas with Ham and Greens. A tradition in the Deep South. There’s a saying that goes: “Eat poor on New Year’s, eat fat the rest of the year.”

King Cake

A New Orleans tradition. But it came there from France, with the French colonizers who fist settled the Louisiana region. In fact, the state is named after one of the French King Louis’. Other European cultures share similar traditions. In all the related traditions, a coin is hidden in one of the slices. The person who receives that piece will have good lick all year.


An obvious fertility symbol. Often hard-boiled, retaining the ‘egg’ shape. Ties in closely with the Ukranian tradition of decorating eggs for Easter.


The colour of money! Also the colour of abundance in the garden. Kale is often used in Scandinavian celebrations. And Collards or other local greens are popular in the US Southeast.


In ancient times, at the height of Greece’s power and influence, onions stood for fertility. Over the centuries, they’ve acquired a connection with the concepts of rebirth and expansion. Even today, many Greek families hang onions over their front doors for good luck in the coming year.

12 Grapes

A specifically Spanish tradition, this one requires that al in attendance swallow 12 grapes as quickly as possible to ‘catch the luck’. Swallowing 12 grapes ensures good luck for the next 12 months.

Looooong Noodles

Eat the longest noodles you can find on New Year’s Day to ensure long, healthy l,.ife in the new year. Tyhe longer the noodles the batter, Use Rice Noodles, Ramen, Italian Spaghetti. Whatever you can get. And don’t break them in  half! That’s BAD luck…


Dim Sum. Asian families get together and all members take part in making these little bite-sized delicacies. Everyone must eat some on New Year’s day to ensure communal good luck and well being through the coming year. And they also have a dumpling tradition in Russia, where it’s mandatory to partake of pelmeni.

Whole Fish

In Asian cultures often prepare whole fish to be shared with everyone at Lunar New Year’s supper. In Europe a number of cultures always make sure there’s carp or cod n the menu. Many of the Scandinavian ones insist that every6one should eat at least one pickled herring roll. It’s all about abundance.


Finally… In Germany they have long observed the tradition of the Neujahrsbrezel – the New Year’s Pretzel. It’s a different kind of pretzel than you might be used to: soft, bready and sweet. Everyone must eat one either at Midnight New Year’s Ever, or the next morning, for breakfast. The observance is tho8ught to ensure both prosperity and good luck in the coming year.

My take

I love old, well-established customs and traditions. Even if they seem – to others – to simply be Old Wives Tales. There’s strength in family and community. These traditions and the many others like them around the world help bind cultures together. And in so doing, they help ensure the fertility, prosperity and abundance they are believed to bring!

Happy New Year’s! Now, eat your cabbage…

~ Maggie J.