Much like Christmas, the New Year’s holiday has a wide and varied food tradition around the world, but most have a common theme involving prosperity in the New Year — and many are centered on produce items.
The symbolism of many revolve around money or wealth that are hoped for in the coming year, or with hopes of a bountiful harvest. While the date of the New Year’s celebration may not be the same (lunar vs. calendar), food is always a central part of the celebration.
Originating in Spain, the reveler consumes twelve grapes as the clock begins striking the midnight toll. Eat fast, because eating all twelve before the final strike is said to be a predictor of the coming year— with a sweet grape predicting a prosperous month to come and a sour grape a less than lucky one. Unlike other traditions, this is relatively new, and thought to have originated in 1895 from a record grape harvest in Spain. The King of Spain was so inspired, the legend goes that he gave grapes to everyone in Spain that year.
Black Eyed peas and collard greens are most associated with the American South, but the tradition has spread beyond the region. Interestingly, this tradition is thought to have been brought to the South by Sephardic Jewish colonists in 1733, making this tradition over 1500 years old. The peas represents coins ,and consuming them along with collard greens (representing paper currency) and corn bread (representing gold) would bring you wealth and prosperity in the New Year.
Sticking with the coin theme, lentils are consumed in Italy on New Year’s Day, along with a special sausage known as Cotechino. The lentils are said to represent gold coins, and the pork sausage is thought to be a bringer of luck.
In India, a simple dish of rice and lentils are consumed with the hopes of wealth and a bountiful harvest.
Originating in Germany, the cabbage is typically sauerkraut, and the more strands in your bowl, the better your New Year will be.
In Greece and Turkey, the pomegranate—in particular the seeds—symbolizes abundant wealth and fertility for the coming year. In Greece, the pomegranate is often hung with an onion, which symbolizes a rebirth for the New Year.
Prized in China for the New Year, Tangerines are the most prized, as their name means luck and success. In the Philippines, round fruits are thought to bring prosperity, so citrus plays a prominent role as well.
Looking for good luck and perhaps prosperity in the New Year? Try out some of these traditions—call your FreshPoint representative today to place your New Year’s orders. It is one of our busiest delivery seasons, please plan ahead.
Article submission by Chef Daniel Snowden, the Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida. He has been in the produce industry years almost 20 years and loves getting geeky about food. Follow FreshPoint Central Florida on Facebook and Instagram.
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