Which Foods Bring Good Fortune in the New Year?

The start of a new year is here! Do you have any special customs to welcome New Year’s Day? Some individuals enjoy watching football games, while others take the time to make resolutions for the upcoming year.

Another common tradition is to prepare and consume lucky foods to kick off the new year on a positive note. Which foods are considered lucky? And how did they earn this reputation? Join us as we explore!

New Year’s Day traditions differ across the globe. However, many “lucky” foods can be categorized into six groups: greens, grapes, pork, fish, legumes, and cake. Let’s delve deeper into each category:

  • Greens: Various types of cooked greens are believed to bring luck. Depending on your cultural background, these may include cabbage, kale, chard, and collard greens. Why are greens associated with good fortune? Many people believe that their green leaves resemble folded money and hope that greens will bring them financial luck in the new year.

  • Grapes: People all around the world consume 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. This practice is especially popular in Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents one of the months in the upcoming year. Some believe that the taste of the grapes can predict the trends for each month. For example, if the fifth grape is sour, the fifth month (May) might be challenging.

  • Pork: Pork is the preferred main dish on New Year’s Day in many countries worldwide. Some consider pigs lucky because their high fat content symbolizes prosperity and wealth. Others believe that pigs represent progress, as they use their snouts to push forward while rooting in the ground.

  • Fish: Fish is also a popular choice on New Year’s Day. Experts believe that fish became a common holiday or feast food thousands of years ago for a couple of reasons. Firstly, religious traditions often called for fish instead of red meat during feasts. Secondly, fish could be preserved and transported more easily than other meats before the invention of refrigeration.

  • Legumes: Legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils, are consumed in various countries worldwide. For example, in the U.S., it is common in the South to eat black-eyed peas. Experts believe that this tradition originated in Africa and later spread throughout the American South. Some individuals also believe that legumes resemble small coins that expand when cooked, and they consume them in hopes of great riches in the new year.

  • Cake: From donuts to more traditional cakes, round or ring-shaped desserts are highly popular on New Year’s Day. Many believe that round foods symbolize a circle and bring good luck, indicating that the upcoming year will go well and come “full circle” back to the same point in time the following year.

Just as there are certain foods that are considered lucky to eat, there are also a few foods that many people believe should be avoided. For instance, it is believed by many that you should steer clear of lobster and chicken on New Year’s Day. The reason for this is that these creatures often move backwards. Others think that you should avoid eating any type of bird in order to prevent your luck from flying away!

And before you start eating, here’s one more word of caution: always leave a bit of food on your plate. It is widely believed that finishing everything on your plate signifies greediness and will bring bad luck. On the other hand, leaving a small amount of food on your plate will ensure that you have plenty to eat in the coming year.

What are the New Year’s traditions in your family? Do you gather for a lucky meal? Do you discuss your goals for the upcoming year? Whatever your customs may be, it’s always enjoyable to start the new year with the people you care about.

Give It a Try

Are you ready to learn more? Ask an adult to assist you with the following activities:

  • How do you welcome the new year? Does your family have any special traditions? Do you have a lucky meal? Write a description of the typical New Year’s celebration in your area. Then, share what you wrote with a friend or family member. Do they have anything to add? Together, create an art project that represents the meaning of this tradition to you. If you have a favorite photo of your family celebrating the new year together, add it to this Canva template with a description.
  • Looking for some good luck? Try preparing Corned Beef and Cabbage or Five Food Groups Macaroni Salad. Make sure to have an adult assist you, and check the ingredient list before you begin. Who knows, you might discover your new favorite New Year’s Day meal today!
  • Many people make resolutions or set goals for each new year. However, you don’t have to wait for the new year to arrive! Learn more about goal-setting. Then, set a long-term goal today. Ask a friend or family member to help you. Enjoy discussing your future goals!

Sources of Wonder

  • http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/newyearsday/luckyfoods (accessed 14 Oct. 2020)
  • http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/new-years-ideas/good-luck-foods#slide-1 (accessed 14 Oct. 2020)
  • http://wilstar.com/holidays/newyear.htm (accessed 14 Oct. 2020)


1. What are some traditional foods believed to bring luck in the New Year?

In many cultures, certain foods are believed to bring luck in the New Year. For example, in Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each stroke of the clock, to ensure good luck for the coming year. In the southern United States, eating black-eyed peas is said to bring good fortune. In Japan, people eat soba noodles on New Year’s Eve to symbolize longevity. Other lucky foods include pomegranates, which are eaten in Greece for prosperity, and pork, which is considered a symbol of progress in many countries.

2. Why are grapes considered lucky in some cultures?

Grapes are considered lucky in some cultures because they are believed to symbolize abundance and prosperity. This belief originated in Spain, where it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents one month of the coming year, and it is said that if you can eat all 12 grapes before the clock finishes striking midnight, you will have good luck for the entire year. This tradition has been passed down through generations and is now widely practiced in many Spanish-speaking countries.

3. What is the significance of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day?

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a tradition that originated in the southern United States and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. It is said that the peas represent coins, and by consuming them, you are ensuring financial abundance. This tradition dates back to the Civil War era, when black-eyed peas were considered a staple food for slaves. Today, many people in the southern states continue to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day as a way to honor their ancestors and bring luck into their lives.

4. What is the symbolism behind eating soba noodles on New Year’s Eve in Japan?

In Japan, it is customary to eat soba noodles on New Year’s Eve, a tradition known as “Toshikoshi Soba.” The long noodles symbolize longevity and are believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. It is believed that by eating the soba noodles, you are leaving behind the hardships of the previous year and starting fresh with positive energy. The noodles are usually served in a hot broth and are enjoyed with family and friends. This tradition has been practiced in Japan for centuries and is an important part of the New Year celebrations.

5. Why do people eat pomegranates for luck in Greece?

In Greece, it is believed that eating pomegranates on New Year’s Day brings prosperity and good luck. The pomegranate is considered a symbol of abundance and fertility, and it is believed that by consuming its seeds, you are ensuring a fruitful year ahead. In Greek tradition, a pomegranate is often smashed on the ground at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the number of seeds that scatter represents the amount of good luck that will come in the coming year. Pomegranates are also commonly used in traditional Greek dishes during the New Year celebrations.

6. Why is pork considered lucky in many countries?

Pork is considered lucky in many countries because it is believed to symbolize progress and prosperity. The pig is a symbol of abundance and fertility, as it can produce a large number of offspring. In many cultures, pork is associated with wealth and success, and consuming it on New Year’s Day is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. The tradition of eating pork on New Year’s Day dates back centuries and is practiced in various forms around the world. From roasted pork to pork sausages, different countries have their own unique ways of incorporating pork into their New Year celebrations.

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