3 Ways for Luck in the New Year

Woman eating grapes

One year we celebrated the New Year aboard a ship, sailing past Hawaii, watching the slow flow of lava from the Kīlauea volcano into the water; steam came up as the lava hit the water, quite a dramatic scene that had us sharing folk stories we heard as children with each other. At the stroke of midnight, we followed a Spanish tradition with our friends: we had a grape at each of the 12 strokes, totaling 12, each grape for good luck in each of the 12 months of the New Year. It was a magnificent year 🙂 And this is the first of 3 foods we learned were eaten to provide good luck for the new year.

Delicious looking soba noodles dish

In Japan, soba noodles are eaten for luck in the new year, but not at midnight, that’d be bad luck. Why? Toshikoshi soba noodles are firmer than regular noodles (like ramen), and so they break off when bitten, and the breaking of the noodles symbolizes the breaking off of the “old year.” To avoid mixing-in of the old and the new year, the noodles are not eaten at the stroke of midnight like the grapes in the Spanish tradition. And the noodles can be prepared with all sorts of additional ingredients, each can bring on a different aspect to the new year!

Honey, yummy!

The final good-luck food tradition comes from Israel: eating apple slices dipped in honey. The explanation behind it was quite simple: eat something sweet, the honey, at the celebration of the new year to make the new year be a sweet one! Another Israeli custom for the year was to eat a bite from a round bread, so that the new year will be a full cycle, and you’ll make it to the new one. Sweet!

What other good luck for the new year food traditions can you share?

Please add in a comment below!

Interesting food trivia: What’s the origin of the fortune cookie?

Answer to last week’s trivia: last week, we asked what was the first official stamp to feature a naked woman. It was a Spanish stamp from 1930 featuring Goya’s La Maja Desnuda!

17 thoughts on “3 Ways for Luck in the New Year

    1. You are extremely observant! The intent of each one of these traditions was to welcome good luck, not bad, but the word “good” didn’t fit into a one line title, so I dropped it, hoping that it would be inferred 🙂

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  1. We don’t have specific food traditions, but we usually get together with neighborhood friends to celebrate NYE. It’s a great tradition because: 1) we are a small group and know we are all vaccinated and boosted, 2) we don’t have to drive anywhere, and 3) we all are pretty much at home and in bed by 10 or 11. I have learned that the new year comes whether I am awake for it or not 🙂

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    1. Lol, that is a most magnificent observation! Pre-pandemic, one of our neighbors hosted a potluck for the new year, which was small and friendly, required less than 100 feet travel round trip, provided great food and company, and had us home early. So I can relate to the greatness of that tradition!

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          1. It’s one of these cases of a convulted history 🙂 They certainly became a “thing” in the US, in California, originally, like Robert said. According to “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food” the fortune cookie (in an early iteration) originated in Japan and migrated, with the immigrants to the US. Since Americans didn’t favor Japanese food at the time, the immigrants opened Chinense restaurants, and that’s where the tradition started. But, during WWII, the manufacturing of fortune cookies transitioned to Chinese American manufacturers.

            So: Gold star to both Robert and Ellen 🙂

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