Updated December 31, 2018

Celebrating the New Year Around the World

As each country in the world has their own food culture, they also have their own food traditions to ring in the new year. Here are 7 food traditions from 7 different countries:


1. Soba Noodles in Japan

It is an Asian tradition to celebrate birthdays with long noodles to wish for a long life. Similarly, in Japan, locals slurp soba noodles to celebrate the new year for longevity and prosperity. Soba noodles are buckwheat based making them a most healthy meal to start the new year. The best noodles are hand-grained, hand-rolled, and hand-cut for the most delicious bite. You can either dip it in cold soba sauce or slurp them up in a hot broth-filled bowl


2. 12 Grapes in Spain

Locals in Spain finish the new year countdown by eating one grape for every toll of the clock bell. So that’s a total of 12 grapes starting at the stroke of midnight. This was a tradition starting in the turn of the 12th century by grape producers. The 12 grapes signify good luck for each of the 12 months of the year ahead. Photo credit Chris Oakley


3. Vasilopita in Greece

Cakes are a common celebration food tradition in many countries around the world. In Greece, the vasilopita is a cake with a single coin inside. After midnight, the cake is served and the person who has the coin in their cake slice is said to have great fortune in the year ahead. Photo credit Alexander Baxevanis


4. Cotechino con Lenticchie in Italy

Aside from that glass(es) of Prosecco to start the new year, Italians warm up with cotechino con lenticchie, a hearty lentil stew with sausages. Lentils represent money and good fortune for Italians. Plus, as it is winter, the stew warms you up. For a sweet ending to continue the new year celebrations, Italians also enjoy chiacchiere, fried dough balls rolled in honey and powdered sugar. Photo credit mush m


5. Pickled Herring in Poland and Scandinavia

Herring is common and abundant in Western Europe. As such, to ensure a year of bounty, locals of Poland and Scandinavia enjoy pickled herring to start the new year. The silvery color of the herring resembles coins, which means a future fortune in the year ahead. Photo credit Patrick Mueller


6. Smashing Pomegranates in Turkey

In some countries, not all food traditions are meant to consume. Turkey’s new year celebrations include smashing a pomegranate on your front door at midnight. The red color represents life and fertility, the medicinal properties represent health, and the abundance of round seeds represent prosperity. Photo credit Jeremy Weate


7. Leafy Greens in the U.S.

In the southern states of the U.S., food traditions for the new year include a filling meal of black-eyed peas, cornbread, and leafy greens which represent the color of money. The greens can be eaten as a side dish or within the Hoppin John pea stew. Photo credit urbanfoodie33


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