New Year Food

New Year 2014 is around the corner and it’s time to lay the table with the traditional New Year foods. Almost every country has at least one special food that is eaten on New Year’s Eve or in the first days of the New Year that is supposed to bring luck, wealth or success in the coming year.

This New Year 2014 add a new spice to your recipes by including traditional New Year food from around the world. These New Year foods are believed to bring good luck when eaten on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve. The more auspicious dishes you make, the luckier you’ll be! Here are a few traditions, recipes and folk tales. So have a look and have fun dishing up some international- flavored luck this New Year 2014!

Lucky New Year Food in Japan

The Japanese celebrate the New Year in high fashion and style. The celebration lasts 3 days, beginning January 1st, and is celebrated with the unbending practice of everyone having a rest. In Japan New Year time is to lay back and relax.

The New Year holiday is celebrated with fine foods, bonenkai ‘year forgetting’ parties, and visits to the Buddhist Temple to offer foods to the gods. The food for the entire 3-day holiday is prepared in advance so that the cook need only defrost, reheat or fry dishes to serve.

New Year Foods that are believed to be particularly auspicious are soba noodles which are especially long noodles that should be sucked up and eaten without breaking them to ensure long life, and mochi rice, which is a rice that is more sticky than ordinary rice and is pressed into cakes called omochi — then it’s either broiled or eaten in soup called Ozoni. Large omochi cakes are first offered to the gods, then cut into pieces and eaten by the family to bring the opportunity for luck and good health to every New Year’s meal. Omochi cakes can be bought in Japanese grocery stores.

New Year Food in Greece

The Greek tradition of eating Vasilopita (a cake baked with a coin inside) originated from the famously high taxes that the Ottoman Empire imposed on the Greek people during the long Ottoman reign. It is believed that a Bishop of Greece, through some miracle, managed to recover a large portion of the Greek people’s riches from the Ottoman’s grasp. When he attempted to return the riches to their respective owners fighting among the Greek people broke out — no one could agree on who had owned what! The second miracle of the story unveils itself here: Saint Basil asked the women to bake a large cake with the valuables inside. When he sliced the cake, the valuables miraculously found their way back to their rightful owners! Today, a cake is baked in honor of this miracle and one coin is baked inside of it. The person who bites into his piece of cake and finds the coin will be blessed with good luck in the coming New Year.

New Year Food in Italy

Italian people welcome the New Year in an extremely interesting way, by tossing old things out of their windows! Old things are tossed out in an effort to make room for the new and lucky to enter their households and lives in the year to come.

The Italian people eat a traditional New Year dish called cotechino con lenticchie: pork sausage served over lentils. This New Year food is eaten because of the presence of fatty rich pork sausage and lentils in it. Cotechino sausage is a symbol of abundance because they are rich in fat; while lentils symbolize money (being both green and coin shaped). This New Year food promises a double-packs of luck!

New Year Food in America

There is a Southern saying that dictates eating habits in the Southern United States’ New Year’s: “Eat poor on New Year’s, eat fat the rest of the year.” A traditional Southern New Year’s meal includes ham, corn bread, black-eyed peas and collard greens. Both black-eyed peas and collard greens are considered especially lucky additions to the dinner table. Black-eyed peas are thought to bring wealth because they look like little coins, in addition to the fact that they swell when cooked — a sure sign of prosperity. Collard greens are considered lucky because they are green, like greenbacks — money!

New Year Food in Spain

A magnificently large harvest only happens every so often, and when it does, the year that the harvest blossomed is celebrated. At the turn of the century, Spain experienced a gigantic grape harvest. The harvest was so grandiose that the year is marked as a time of great luck. Every year since, Spanish people have brought in the New Year by eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight. At each strike of the Plaza del Sol clock (which is broadcast to the entire country much like the United States broadcasts the Time’s Square clock), another grape is eaten in celebration of lucky years past, and in hope of a lucky year to come.

Champagne: The Universal New Year Good Luck Charm

Champagne is a universal lucky tradition. It is drunk not only in France, its country of origin, but also around the world on New Year’s Eve. Why champagne is considered the ultimate drink for toasting in the New Year is a bit of a mystery. It is true that throughout the 18th century, the royalty almost exclusively drank champagne. And after World War I, champagne production houses dried up and were not revived until after World War II when ordinances were passed to set the price of champagne grapes to ensure farmers a steady living. Perhaps, when we are drinking champagne we are toasting the past, our strength to survive, as well as hoping that the richness of champagne’s bubbles will influence the year to come!

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