New Year’s Food Traditions

Happy 2019! How’d you ring in the New Year? Out with friends, a quiet evening with family, solo with a good book? No matter how you spent it, Click ‘N Cook hopes you were able to celebrate with a good meal.

The start of a new year is a time for many to start reflecting on the past and thinking of the future. For some, they started out the year with a resolution or two. For others, they continued on a tradition. Many cultures around the globe eat traditional foods on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day – foods that are meant to bring luck, fortune, or prosperity over the next year.

Here are a few New Year’s food traditions from around the world:

  • The American South – many southerners eat black-eyed peas (symbolizing coins) and rice, usually served with collards (the color of money) and cornbread (the color of gold). The dish is said to bring good luck in the new year.
  • Japan – families eat buckwheat soba noodles, or toshikoshi soba, at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The long noodles are said to symbolize longevity and prosperity.
  • Italy – people often celebrate with traditional cotechino con lenticchie, a sausage and lentil stew that is said to bring good luck. The lentils represent money and good fortune.
  • Poland and Scandinavia – pickled herring is eaten at the stroke of midnight to bring a year of prosperity and bounty. Herring symbolize bounty due to their abundance in Poland and parts of Scandinavia and because of their silver coloring.

Some of the staff at the food bank have New Year’s food traditions of their own. Here are a few:

  • Herring – it’s an old family tradition for this staff member to eat herring on NYE for good luck.
  • Cooking something “rich”  – this reminds people of all of the fortune they’ve had over the course of the year.
  • Sukiyaki – A meal you can cook at the table full of noodles, beef, and veggies. It’s auspicious to eat hot noodle soup because the long, thin noodles symbolize longevity.  
  • Black-eyed peas – This is a southern tradition having to do with luck.

Staff also weighed in on a few food related resolutions they have for the upcoming year. Common ones included eating more vegetables and trying to eat more plant-based meals. If you’re considering resolutions, try out some of these veggie-heavy main courses from Click ‘N Cook: Vegetarian Bean Quesadillas, Grilled Cayenne Eggplant with Tomato Salad, or Grilled Asparagus and Shrimp Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.


Written by Rachel Caty, MPH, RDN, LDN