The start of a new year has a tendency to turn even non-believers superstitious. All around the world, 1/1 is a day rife with tradition and symbolic ritual.
Many of the world’s most persistent New Year’s traditions revolve around eating, with certain foods acting as symbols of the eater’s hopes and wishes for the future. Recurring themes are foods that symbolize wealth, prosperity, forward motion, long life and other sundry nice things that might (hopefully) happen to a person during the year. Here are ten ways to eat for luck during the New Year periodd.
1. Eat twelve grapes at midnight. The Spanish and Portuguese eat twelve grapes as the clock chimes twelve times for midnight, to symbolize the twelve months of the New Year. Incidentally, eating grapes this quickly is not as easy as it may sound.
2. Down some pork. Lots of people consider pork to be the luckiest of all foods to eat on New Year’s Day. Why? Pigs are rotund, which represents prosperity (not, as it turns out, weight gain). They also “root forward” with their noses, which is supposed to symbolize progress. You can choose to eat your lucky pig any which way, including ham, sausage, whole roasted suckling pig, ham hocks, bacon, pancetta…sorry, where was I?
3. Smash a pomegranate on the floor. (And waste a perfectly good piece of fruit?) In Greece, when the new year turns, a pomegranate is smashed on the floor in front of the door to break it open and reveal seeds symbolizing prosperity and good fortune. The more seeds, the more luck.
4. Roast whole fish for lunch. Fish are lucky in three ways: their scales resemble coins, they travel in schools, which represents prosperity, and they swim forward, symbolizing progress. This option has the added benefit of complying with whatever New Year’s dietary resolutions you’ve likely made.
5. Bake a coin into a cake. The second Greek tradition on our list, this involves a special lemon-flavored cake called a vasilopita baked with a coin inside (again with the money!). Whoever finds the coin gets a year of good luck. That, or a chipped tooth.