New Year's Day Lucky Foods

Updated on December 29, 2017
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained minister and Bible teacher.

New Year's Day Foods

Some people eat traditional foods on New Year's Day that have been passed down from generation to generation. They claim eating certain foods will bring them good luck all year long. They also claim that eating other foods will bring them bad luck all year long.

The type of foods eaten depends on the country, culture, and region.

The Tradition of Eating Collard Greens

Many people in the South, especially those in the African-American community, eat black-eyed peas with stewed tomatoes and collard greens on New Year's Day.

Their forefathers handed down the tradition because they believed those who eat collard greens will have good luck and money all year long. Some believe that any cooked greens will have the same effect.

Vegetables that belong to that category include the following:

  • cabbage
  • chard
  • collards
  • kale
  • mustard greens

Any of the above are appropriate according to the tradition because the green leaves look like folded money. All of the greens are symbolic of good luck and prosperity in the new year.

The Tradition of Eating Black-Eyed Peas On New Year's Day

There are many explanations why black-eyed peas are a staple on a lot of tables on New Year's Day. Their appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked that remind the eater of having lots of money throughout the year.

Black-eyed peas are said to be lucky for those who eat them on the first day of the year. This dish is extremely popular in the South and among the African-American communities. People have been told that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will bring good luck all year long.

Explanations of the tradition

  1. During the Civil War, black-eyed peas were thought to be food for animals because they were not good enough for General Sherman's Union troops. When the soldiers raided the Confederates' food supplies, they took all the foods but left behind only the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies because they survived the winter by eating plenty of black-eyed peas. Peas became symbolic of good luck and prosperity for those who eat them.
  2. Another explanation is that slaves celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation with black-eyed peas on the first day of January 1863. From that day, black-eyed peas have been eaten on the first day of January.
  3. Others say black-eyed peas were the only crop that was available during the winter months. They were plentiful and cheap.
  4. During the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt, it was believed that eating a meager food like black-eyed peas showed humility before the gods, and blessings would follow.

Foods To Eat On New Year's Day
Black-eyed Peas
Stewed Tomatoes
Collard Greens

New Year's Day Foods People Eaten In Different Countries

Country
Tradition
Germany
A custom to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year.
Philippines
It is important to have food on the table at midnight for good luck all year long.
Spain
Twelve grapes are eaten one at a time with each stroke of the clock until midnight—one grape for each month of the year.

Other Lucky Foods To Eat On New Year's Day

Other than collard greens and black-eyed peas, there are some foods people eat for good luck and prosperity.

  • Grapes are eaten in Spain for a prosperous new year. People eat twelve grapes at midnight. One grape is eaten for each stroke of the clock until midnight. Each grape represents a different month. The first grape is for January and other grapes follow the months of the calendar. If the seventh grape is sour, then July will be a sour month. The sweet grapes represent sweet months.
  • Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money like the green leafy vegetables.
  • Pork is eaten to symbolize progress. Pigs push forward, rooting in the ground before moving forward. The rich fat of pork represents wealth.
  • Fish, especially cod, is said to be lucky because they swim forward. Lobster shouldn't be eaten because it brings bad luck because it moves backward.
  • Cakes and baked goods that are shaped in circles are commonly served from Christmas to New Year's Day around the world for prosperity.

Do Not Eat These Foods on New Year's Day

There are three groups of food that are said to bring bad luck all year if eaten on New Year's Day. Try to avoid the foods listed below if possible. Pay attention to the reason they should not be eaten.

  • Lobsters are known to move backward. If you eat them, they will cause you to have setbacks throughout 2018.
  • Chickens scratch backward. Eating chicken on New Year's Day is said to cause you to have regrets because of your past.
  • Winged fowls should be avoided because if you have good luck, it will fly away like the winged birds.

Foods Not To Eat
Reason Not To Eat
Lobster
Lobsters move backward and could therefore lead to setbacks.
Chicken
Chickens scratch backward, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past.
Winged Fowl
Winged fowl could cause your good luck to fly away.

Do you eat traditional foods on New Year's Day?

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