What are your hopes for the New Year?
Are you hoping for more money, a dose of longevity, or just more good luck?
All over the world, people have celebrated New Year’s with foods meant to symbolize their hopes for good fortune and good health. From leafy greens to hearty lentils, many of these foods also fit a plant-based, vegan diet. Here’s a guide to the history of 7 traditions and some delicious, healthy recipes to celebrate.
For Dollar Bills? Eat Cooked Greens
America, Denmark, Germany
Dark leafy greens like collards, kale, and cabbage are traditionally enjoyed because of their semblance to green money. It’s probably not a coincidence that these hearty vegetables are also in season during cold winter months. Germans have the tradition of pickling their cabbage for sauerkraut and the Danes will often serve stewed kale with their salted cod. In New Orleans, Creole traditions beckon for stewed collards. In both regions, cabbage and kale show up in the stews and soups of the season.
For Coins? Eat Peas and Legumes
America, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Japan
Greens representing paper money, but peas, beans, and lentils symbolize small coins. Italians create hearty lentil soups for coins, and they combine the money wishes in their Beans and Greens Soup (hoping for both dollar bills and little coins). Germans will cook a pot of split peas while Japanese enjoy black soy beans.
In America, our tradition of Hoppin’ John (made with black-eyed peas) dates back to the Civil War, when an attack on Vicksburg created a food scare. Luckily, there were enough black-eyed peas to keep stomachs filled, and the tradition has stuck ever since.
For Longevity? Slurp Some Soba
In Japan, long soba noodles are slurped up in the hopes for a long life. These silky strands, made from hearty buckwheat, are often added to flavor Dashi broths and garnished with an assortment of julienned vegetables, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs. You can make your own Soba celebration by using my Shiitake Miso soup as a base. Simply add in a bundle of soba noodles during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. It might be good luck or it might be all of the healthy fiber and plant-based protein in the whole grain noodles that brings you a long, healthy life
For 12 Months of Good Luck? Eat Grapes
Spain and Latin America
When the clock strikes midnight, forget about finding someone to kiss. Rather, find a bowl of grapes to enjoy! Eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight means you will have 12 months of good luck. If one of the grapes are sour, though, be warned. It might foreshadow a “sour” patch during that corresponding month.
For Memories of Summer? Fire up the Barbie!
New Zealand and Australia
While the Northern Hemisphere is used to a cold, snowy New Year’s, our compatriots on the other side of the world are celebrating the warmest months of the year. Aussies fired up their “Barbies”, aka “Barbecues”, for holiday grill-outs. Locals might enjoy a fun outdoor rugby scrum before enjoying some fresh kabobs or grilled burgers. With the joy of modern convenience, even Americans can fire up their own gas grills (or grill pans) for a taste of a Kiwi summer.
For General Good Luck?
Dive into tamales, hide a baby Jesus, or hide an almond in the Rice Pudding
Mexico, America, Norway and Sweden
All over the world, everything from coins to Biblical figurines are hidden in foods. Whomever finds the hidden prize is thought to have “found” extra luck for the new year.
In Mexico, a coin might be hidden in a huge batch of tamales. In New Orleans, sneak a shiny penny inside your pot of Black-Eyed peas. The Nordics might slip an almond into their rice pudding. The best, though, is Baby Jesus, hidden inside a King Cake during Mardi Gras. Whoever finds the little king is supposed to “king” for the day. Unless of course, she chokes on Baby Jesus’s arm. Let’s hope not!
How About Dal for Dollars?
About the Author:
Chef Katie Simmons
Katie is a Personal Chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. She consults and develops recipes for a Chicago-based food delivery company and celebrity cookbooks. Outside of the kitchen, she is a Fitness Instructor for Equinox, with over 13 years experience in the fitness industry. For fun, she loves to travel. Some of her favorite trips include 4 days on the Incan Trail in Peru, 10 days of hiking in the Patagonia of Argentina and Chile, and exploring the pretzels and vineyards of Germany.