There are certain situations in life where timing can be crucial. And some of my readers may be a little confused – or even put out – that I am posting this after the fact. However, I say there’s never an inappropriate time to do what you can to bring good fortune to yourself, if you happen to believe in that sort of thing. I myself will take all the prosperity I can get anytime I can get it. That being said…

People have been celebrating the beginning of a new year for a very long time. And depending upon which calendar was (or is) being followed, the turning of the year could be at various times. In the modern era, most cultures observe the new year as being the first of January, and most celebrate with gatherings, song, drink and of course, food. There are almost as many food traditions for celebrating the New Year as there are cultures, such as the consumption of twelve grapes before midnight in Spain. And most all of the various traditions center around a common theme; bringing good luck, good fortune, prosperity or whatever you want to call it in the coming year. With so many options available, I selected a few items whose origins may be a bit of a mystery, but the ideas behind them are interesting and naturally, the food is delicious!

One of the popular foods that are consumed by many on New Year’s Day are greens. This is a long-standing tradition in both Europe, ScandinaviaΒ and America. In Denmark, a dish of stewed kale topped with sugar and cinnamon is common, while sauerkraut (often served with sausages) is popular in German homes. And while spinach and chard are foods that most everyone is familiar with, the usual fare in the American South is collard greens. Their significance, of course is in their resemblance to folded “green” money, and it is believed that eating large amounts of green on New Year’s Day will bring financial prosperity in the year ahead.

 

Another food that enjoys more widespread popularity at the new year is pork. Throughout history pigs have been the most commonly available animal for people of all cultures and classes, and (at some point) began to be seen as an object of good luck for the new year. As pigs do quite a bit of rooting in the ground with their snouts, this forward motion came to symbolize progress, and so people made a point of consuming pork at the beginning of the year to ensure their own personal advancement. Pigs’ feet is often eaten in Sweden, while roasted pork and sausages areΒ usually served in Germany. And whole suckling pig is wildly popular in many countries, including Spain, Portugal, Austria and Hungary.

 

Continuing on this stream of good luck and good fortune, we find that many cultures have considered beans and lentils an important dish to include in a New Year’s feast. They are believed to symbolize money, which in earlier times were various sizes (and even shapes) of coins. So to start of the year right, one should consume these foods to increase their financial prospects. One bean in particular gained enormous popularity in the American South; the black-eyed pea, sometimes called a cowpea. It became the focus of Hoppin’ John, one of the most popular dishes created in the South. Consisting of black-eyed peas, rice, and a mixture of vegetables (whatever was available to the cook at the time), this delicious dish also included the ever-popular pork, significantly increasing one’s chances for good fortune. There is even an old Civil war story concerning the bean. According to the tale, the citizens of Vicksburg Mississippi were in serious danger of starvation during the siege on the city by Yankee troops. A store of black-eyed peas was apparently located, allowing the people of the town to survive, and most certainly becoming a symbol of good luck for them.

And because I am very a much a both-sides-of-the-story kind of girl, I should mention that there are also foods that are believed should be avoided at the start of the new year. Lobster was often discouraged because it “walks” backward, and symbolized a lack of progress in one’s life. So save the lobster for that fancy New Year’s Eve dinner. And chicken, turkey, and other winged fowl are said to bring bad luck due to their backward motion in scratching at the ground. Naturally all of the information presented here varies from culture to culture and is based on personal beliefs. For myself however, eating good food – any good food – always puts one in a positive frame of mind, and positivity can certainly lead to better things. I hope all of my readers have lots of good food and good fortune in the new year. Happy 2015!

Thanks to the great people at www.epicurious.com for their interesting information!

 

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