Head into the New Year with friends, family, and of course, food. When you prep for your celebration, incorporate this fun tradition of New Year’s foods to eat for good luck.
Every culture has traditions that are observed throughout the holiday season, and food is often at the heart of many of those traditions. Here are some of the New Years food traditions and superstitions from around the world, and some of our favorite recipes that include these lucky ingredients.
New Year’s Eve is set to be celebrated on Sunday, December 31, 2023, followed by the arrival of New Year’s Day on Monday, January 1, 2024.
Ring-shaped food is said to symbolize either the past year coming full circle, or a full circle of good luck for the year ahead. Ring shaped cakes and other desserts are the most popular options to observe this tradition, and some people even bake coins or small trinkets into the cakes, bringing even more good fortune to the one who finds it.
Here are some of the popular ring-shaped foods consumed on New Years:
- Greece: Vasilopita – Traditional Greek Cake or bread often served at Midnight
- Bulgaria: Banitsa – Filo dough based cake with egg and feta
- Europe: King’s Cake – A sweet, bread/cake with almond cream, sometimes with icing and sprinkles
- Denmark: Kransekage – A tall ring/cone-shaped pastry made of smaller rings stacked on top of each other, made of marzipan
- Poland, Hungary: Donuts! – New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve is known in Poland and Hungary as Sylwester (Saint Sylvester’s Day) and they eat ring-shaped donuts.
Try these ring-shaped recipes:
Noodles are often eaten on the New Year for longevity and prosperity. The Japanese often eat soba noodles, the Chinese eat “longevity noodles”. There are many different types of noodles, so you may want to choose a new one to try as a way to kick off the New Year. Whatever noodles you choose to eat, the longer the noodle the better, and slurp away — no cutting allowed!
Try these noodle recipes for longevity in the New Year!
- Udon Noodle Soup Recipe
- Szechuan Beef Pasta
- Korean Cold Noodle Soup
- 5-Minute Pho
- 30 Ramen Noodle Recipes
- Instant Pot Pasta With Chipotle Tomato Sauce
If you’re looking to bring more wealth and prosperity into your life, kick off the New Year with pork. Eat your favorite pork recipe on New Year’s Day because pigs root forward (a sign of progress), as opposed to chickens and turkeys who scratch backwards. Pork and kraut is a popular pairing, as is pork and cabbage.
Try these pork recipes for prosperity!
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Blue Cheese Stuffed Applewood Smoked Bacon Pork Loin
- Cherry & Balsamic Crock Pot Pork Chops
- 19 Pork Loin Recipes
- Ultimate Guide To Pork Chops
- Air Fryer Brats
- Spiral Ham
Eating lentils on New Years Eve or Feast Day of Pope Saint Sylvester is a popular Italian tradition. They are believed to bring wealth and prosperity and are often eaten with pork!
Try this delicious Lentil Soup Recipe with Smoked Sausage and Parmesan
In Scandinavian countries, herring was considered a symbol of good fortune and pickled herring was a popular New Years appetizer. In many other cultures, fish in general is considered a sign of prosperity and good fortune, with their silvery coin-like scales, and the schools they swim in symbolizing abundance. If you’re looking for a year of prosperity and abundance from beginning to end, cook your fish whole, head, tail, and everything in between.
Try these fish recipes for a prosperous start to your New Year!
- Grilled Whole Trout
- Blackened Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes
- Baked Salmon With Mayo
- Baked Tilapia In Foil
A Greek tradition has families throwing pomegranates at their front door at midnight. The more seeds that fall out when the pomegranate breaks, the more luck the family will enjoy. Not into smashing pomegranates? Try these pomegranate cocktails instead!
Dumplings are often consumed the day before Chinese New Year as they resemble gold ingots, the ancient Chinese currency. Eating dumplings symbolizes sending away the old and welcoming the new.
For the Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar, it is tradition to eat “buuz”, a mince meat-filled steamed dumpling.
Try these Air Fryer Dumplings for an easy New Years appetizer to bring good fortune to you and your guests in the year ahead.
More Lucky Food for the New Year
- Doughnuts (Oliebollen): In the Netherlands, eating these Dutch fried doughnuts is said to be lucky.
- Soft Pretzels (Neujahrsbrezel) – This is a sweet, soft pretzel is eaten on the New Year in Germany for good luck.
- Buttered Bread (La nag Ceapairi): New Year’s Day in Ireland is also known as Day of the Buttered Bread and is a talisman against hunger.
- Black-Eyed Peas: There are many variations to the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day but most maintain it but most hold the theme of luck and prosperity.
- Grapes: In Spain eating 12 grapes (or raisins, if you’re in Portugal) at midnight on New Year’s Eve is both a tradition and a superstition. Eating 12 grapes ensures good luck for the next 12 months.
- Greens (collards, turnip greens, cabbage, etc.): In the south this is a traditional first-day-of-the-year meal along with cornbread and black eyed peas. It is said this meal brings good health, wealth and luck.
- Kagami Mochi: This is a traditional Japanese New Year’s decoration made of stacked mochi cakes placed on top of each other. It symbolizes good luck and prosperity into the New Year. Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes) is also served during Oshogatsu (Japanese New Year) to bring good luck and prosperity.
- Spring Rolls: The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, and these golden rolls represent gold bars that bring wealth and prosperity in the year to come.
- Bánh Chưng (Sticky Rice Cake): This is a must-have food for the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration known as Tết. The square shape symbolizes the ground expressing gratitude to Vietnamese ancestors and the earth.
- Tteokguk (soup with rice cake): Eating a bowl of tteokguk for Seollal, or Korean Lunar New Year, symbolizes growing a year older, along with good health and a long life.
Other Foods To Eat For Good Luck On New Years
What NOT To Eat On New Years
Now that you know what to eat for good luck, here’s the bad luck foods to avoid to ensure that good luck sticks!
- Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster (because they move sideways/backwards)
- Catfish and Halibut (because they are bottom feeders)
- Chicken and Turkey (because they scratch backwards)
- Hollow Bread (a massive air pocket is said to be a bad omen)
- White Foods (Chinese tradition considers white unlucky because it symbolizes death including eggs, rice and white cheeses)
Ring in the New Year with These Festive Recipes!