Healthy Foods Help Ring in New Year in Many National Traditions

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • What will you be enjoying as you ring in 2014? For many people, the New Year starts with a glass of champagne and progresses to the buffet table.


    Here are some foods that are favorites in different parts of the world that also can provide a healthy alternative for your diet as you start 2014. They can also serve as a way to explore other cultures and a way to start your own New Year’s tradition.


    Here goes:

    • Grapes are a part of the celebration in Mexico and Spain. At midnight, Mexicans and Spaniards consume a grape, which represents a wish, on each strike of the clock at midnight.
    • Children in Wales enjoy skewered apples covered with raisins and other fruit on New Year’s morning.
    • Filipinos decorate their dining room tables with round fruit to mark the New Year. These shapes are believed to symbolize prosperity since they resemble coins.
    • Eating lentils is believed to bring good luck and prosperity for Italians as they enter a New Year.
    •  Beans are a staple for Argentinians, who believe that this food will help them remain employed or find a better opportunity in the New Year.
    • Residents of Poland eat pickled herring at the stroke of midnight marking the New Year. This food is believed to bring a year of prosperity and bounty if eaten.
    • Pork is a key staple in many countries. In Austria, pigs symbolize progress and prosperity so citizens often serve roasted suckling pig on New Year’s Eve. Other countries that tend to go hog-wild over pork on New Year’s include Cuba, Hungary, Greece and Portugal. In the American South, eating a lot of pork was symbolic of the luck the person would have in the New Year. Italians often eat a savory sausage made of pig hooves since the hoof is considered to symbolize abundance.
    • Fish also is considered lucky in many areas. That’s because the scales resemble money. Furthermore, the idea of abundance is reinforced since fish swim in schools.
    • The pomegranate is considered a symbol of prosperity because of its many seeds.
    • Figs are considered a symbol of fertility.
    • Greens and black-eyed peas – This combination is common where I live. The greens are believed to represent dollar bills while the peas are considered coins. Together, they are signs that you’ll have wealth and luck in the New Year. Uncooked greens were often tacked up to the ceiling by Southerners for good luck. Hanging them over the door was believed to ward off evil spirits.
    • Like to eat numerous small meals? Well, you need to join up with the Estonians, who will consume between 7-12 meals on New Year’s Eve. They believe that all of these meals will provide them extra strength going into the New Year. Interestingly, they leave a part of each meal unfinished as a way to share it with ancestral spirits who visit on New Year’s Eve. So in an effort to eat healthy, make sure you make them small meals.
    • Japanes eat a special selection of dishes to mark the New Year. This celebration, known as osechi, often offers revelers a variety of dishes. Japanese start off with a bowl of buckwheat noodles (toshikoshi soba), which are known as “year-crossing noodles.” (In many cultures, eating the noodles whole portends good luck during the year.) Another offering is boiled seaweed known as kombu. This food was historically offered as a tribute to court officials ever year. A second offering includes fish cakes known as kamaboko. Red-skinned and white kamaboko are usually served at these celebratory times since red and white are considered to be colors that bring good luck. Other components of this celebratory meal can include mashed sweet potatoes with chestnut, sweetened black soybeans and rice cakes.

    Enjoy a variety of these tonight and tomorrow! And here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!

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    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:


    Cameron, M. (ND). 7 lucky New Year’s Eve foods. Reader’s Digest.


    Markham, M. (ND). Lucky New Year’s meal. Southern Living.


    The Daily Meal. (2013). 20 New Year’s food and drink traditions around the world. The Daily Meal.


    Wikipedia. (2013). Japanese New Year.


    Wikipedia. (2013). Kamaboko.


    Wikipedia. (2013). Kombu.

Published On: December 31, 2013