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  • Lynn

New Year’s Food Traditions Around the World

It has always been so interesting to me to discover how different cultures' celebratory practices differ from mine. Today, let's learn about what the people from other countries eat for New Year's!

Spain - Twelve Grapes

Called las doce uvas de la suerte (“the twelve grapes of luck”), many people in Spain eat twelve green grapes when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. These grapes represent twelve months of good luck.

Twelve grapes of luck with sparkling beverage

Netherlands - Oliebollen

Fried oil balls, or oliebollen, are pastries similar to donuts. It is alleged that the Dutch tradition of eating oliebollen to celebrate the new year began as a way to line the stomach with oil to protect against the sword attack of the cruel pagan goddess Perchta. Legend say that she would fly around and cut open people's stomachs for food.

Oliebollen with sparkling wine

Italy - Lentils

In Italy, it is believed that lentils bring good luck. The more lentils that one eats just after midnight on January 1st, the more prosperous the upcoming year will be!

Italian lentil dish

Japan - Toshikoshi Soba

It is a custom in Japan for people to reflect on the past year and ring in the upcoming year while enjoying a bowl of hot buckwheat noodles called Toshikoshi Soba. The long soba noodles represent a long life, strength, and resilience.

Toshikoshi Soba

Germany - Marzipan Pigs

In the German language, Schwein gehabt or “having a pig” means being lucky. People in Germany give their loved ones little pigs made of marzipan in the days between Christmas and New Year's to bring luck and good fortune in the upcoming year.

Pink Marzipan Pigs

Turkey - Pomegranate

People don't eat pomegranate to celebrate the new year in Turkey--they smash it on their front door! In Turkish culture, pomegranates are a symbol of prosperity and abundance. Those who prefer something less messy sprinkle salt on their doorstep for luck.

Smashed pomegranate

Greece - Vasilopita

Vasilopita is a Greek cake with a gold or silver coin inside. The cake is cut at midnight, and whoever's piece has the gold coin is said to have good luck for the rest of the year.

Vasilopita cake

Armenia - Sweetbread

People in Armenia enjoy a large loaf of sweetbread called tarehats, darin, or gata to ring in the new year. Similar to the Greek tradition, Armenians will hide a small trinket in the bread, and whoever gets the trinket in their piece will have good fortune in the year ahead.

Armenian Sweetbread

These are just the tip of the iceberg--there is a world of food traditions out there to be discovered!

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