We eat in order to satiate, to celebrate, to commiserate and to alleviate boredom, so why not try eating to increase our luck? It’s just as good a reason as any, if not better. I always love a good dose of superstition and one involving eating food is downright irresistible. Even if these foods don’t bring you the luck you hoped for, they will at the very least remind you how lucky you are to have a full stomach.
Country of Origin: Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Austria
Why? : You may not know this about the humble pig, but apparently they never ever move backwards. Like, it’s literally impossible for them. What better way to encourage progress in your life than by eating one of these forward thinking animals? For those who don’t like the meat, no need to freak out, luckily for you the good luck also applies to all pig shaped food. Try baking some pig shaped cookies and distribute them to your neighbours, then just sit back and wait for good luck to befall your street.
Country of Origin: Germany
Why? : There doesn’t appear to be any profound symbolism behind this one, it basically just exists because of Germans textbook love of Sauerkraut. Traditionally, diners wish each other as much happiness and wealth as the number of shreds of cabbage in the Sauerkraut. Yes, that’s right, not only can happiness be precisely quantified, it can also be measured in shreds of cabbage.
Country of Origin: Numerous
Why? : There are so many aspects of the fish which make it lucky; its appearance, its lifestyle and even its name. Firstly, its sparkling scaly appearance resembles nice shiny money. Secondly, it lives in large groups, symbolising abundance. And lastly, its name in Chinese even sounds like the Chinese word for abundance! Clearly this is one of the luckier foods out there.
Country of Origin: America
Why? : We can always count on America to come up with the unhealthiest food on the list. The tradition is to bake ring shaped cakes with a treasure inside; whoever finds it gets good luck for the coming year. The circular shape represents the idea of the year coming full circle. Many other countries also love the idea of circular sweets; Italy has “chiacchiere,” which are circles of fried pasta dough soaked in honey and topped with powdered sugar. Holland has a kind of doughnut-esque pastry filled with raisins, currants and apples called “ollie bollen.”
Honey and Apples
Country of Origin: No particular country, Jewish culture
Why? : The apples are dipped in the honey and eaten during a New Year (Rosh HaShanah) ritual. This tradition stems from the Jewish custom of eating sweet foods to express hope for sweetness in the New Year. Additionally, Jews believe that they are being judged on their behaviour during the previous year. Eating the sweet treat symbolises their hope that they will be judged kindly and will be viewed with sweetness. So these are especially good foods to have around if you’ve been doing anything you shouldn’t over the past year…
Country of Origin: Spain
Why? : This tradition stems from disappointingly commercial motivations. Back in 1909, Spanish grape growers wanted to get rid of their grape surplus for the coming year, so they encouraged the ingestion of lots of grapes on New Year’s. Each grape eaten represents a month of the past year, so people traditionally gobble 12. The Peruvians take it to the next level, eating 13 grapes to make sure that good luck follows them into the New Year.
Country of Origin: Asian Countries
Why? : Quite fittingly, the long noodles signify longevity, and it’s a very bad move to break one of the noodles. This tradition is so famous that ‘Longevity Noodles’ is actually the name of a recipe for the dish eaten on New Year’s.
Country of Origin: Turkey
Why? : Pomegranates are not just super foods in terms of health, but also in terms of luck. Their redness represents the human heart and hence life and fertility. Their plethora of seeds symbolises prosperity and of course, their healing and health benefits represent well-being. So the delicious pomegranate has it all: health, wealth and fertility.
Country of Origin: America
Why? : Now this sounds like a conspiracy made up by a group of enterprising mothers. Eating green leafy vegetables is said to bring wealth because they resemble paper money (because leafy greens are so rectangular and printed?). In fact, *mothers rub their hands together greedily*, the more you eat the wealthier you will become. Even if this is a cunning trick designed to make people eat more greens, it certainly can’t hurt to try.
Country of Origin: China
Why? : Again, it’s the classic case of eating food that vaguely resembles money. Dumplings resemble gold ingots which used to be the currency in China. The tradition is rather vague on whether the dumpling/ingot currency is transferable to the Aussie dollar but I say go for it anyway.
What Not to Eat
You may not realise it, but it’s possible that all your bad luck over the years is due to unwittingly eating these horribly unlucky foods on New Year’s. For the superstitious amongst us it’s an appalling thought to imagine that we may have been eating cursed New Year’s foods all this time. But never fear, as long as you steer clear of these foods whilst stuffing yourself silly with the lucky foods, you should have your best year yet.
This silly crustacean has a lot to learn from the pig, as it is well known to move backwards on many occasions. Consequently, eating lobster on New Years could very well lead to setbacks in the coming year instead of the forward progress you desire.
In a similar vein, chickens scratch dirt backwards which is a big no-no in the world of New Year’s food as it represents negative dwelling on the past. The poor chicken has even more negative associations because it’s also a winged animal which means it could fly away with your good luck! (Despite being dead, cooked and probably even de-winged at the time of consumption)
After examining all these food traditions, you may not be convinced that there is much of an evidential basis for these bold claims about their profound effect on your future. But the great thing about superstitions is that they don’t need evidence, so make sure you eat according to this list on New Year’s, or you might find yourself compulsively checking your driveway for black cats.