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New Year's Recipes to Bring Good Luck

Centuries-old traditions found in many countries

On New Year's Day, superstitious people all over the world prepare their good luck recipes in hopes of bringing about a prosperous 2014—or at least getting the new year off to a good start.

For centuries, people have dined on certain foods thought to bring good fortune in terms of riches, love, and good health for the new year ahead.

For people of various nationalities, pork is considered a lucky food to eat on New Year’s Day. This custom is thought to have its origins in Europe, where hundreds of years ago wild boars were hunted in the forests and killed on the first day of the year. Folks from New England like to combine sauerkraut with pork to bring good luck and prosperity.

In Spain and Portugal, 12 grapes are eaten as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve—one grape (or raisin) for each chime of the clock and month of the year. Good luck will come to Spaniards who down the whole dozen before the final chime sounds.

Foods resembling money in some way are often eaten in an effort to secure prosperity in the new year. Cash-like cabbage and golden colored foods fall into this category.

Round or ring-shaped signify that the old year has been completed. Black eyed peas are a good example of this concept. Hoppin’ John is a Southern style black eyed peas recipe often eaten for luck on New Year’s Day. Our featured Black Eyed Peas with Country Ham recipe (pictured above) is a good luck dish that tastes good, too. Paired with our recipe for Green Onion & Jalapeno Cornbread, it's a great dish to start the new year off right. Here's our wish for good luck to all our Food Channel readers in 2014!

Other good luck food customs for the New Year:

  • In some Asian countries, long noodles are thought to bring a long life—but you’ve got to get the whole noodle in your mouth without breaking it.

Recipes: Chicken and Soba Noodle Soup, Savory Asian Noodle and Walnut Salad

  • In Italy and Brazil, Lentils are thought to resemble coins and eaten in hopes of bringing wealth in the new year.

Recipes: Lentil Soup with Pasta

  • Greens such as kale, collards and cabbage have a New Year’s lucky wish-for-cash connection in many countries.

Recipes: Cape Ann Seafood Stew (with fresh kale), Baby Lettuce Greens with Blueberry Vinaigrette (pictured above, right)

  • Fish are thought to be a lucky food for a new year by folks in parts of North America, Asia and Europe. Because fish swim forward, they are thought to bring on progress in the year ahead. In Germany and Poland, the fish of choice is herring, which may be enjoyed pickled or in a cream sauce.

Recipes: Sea Salt & Lime Fish Tacos (pictured, right), Mediterranean Fish Fillets 

  • Pomegranates, associated with abundance and fertility, are a popular lucky fruit to eat on New Year’s in some Mediterranean countries.

Recipes: Pear and Field Green Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette