Eating a Special Dish on New Year’s Day?


When I was a little girl, my dad insisted that I eat at least one spoonful of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day to bring good luck. I didn’t like them. Eating even a spoonful seemed like a high price to pay for good luck in the new year.

As an adult, each year in December I buy black-eyed peas to supplement our New Year’s meal—that is, when the grocery store doesn’t run out of them. That’s happened several times. Apparently, others seek the same good luck. I guess I’m just superstitious enough after hearing the saying year after year to worry when I don’t eat them. We all need a little luck, after all.

Folks from the southern United States eat black-eyed peas on January 1st. Cornbread is another favorite in that section of the country. Green, leafy vegetables supposedly resemble money and eating them brings prosperity.

Citizens in Spain eat 12 grapes at midnight. Each grape represents one month and foretells the kind of year the person will experience. If the fifth and sixth grape taste especially bad, for example, May and June might be a little difficult.

cake-596918_960_720Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians—among others—eat pork on New Year’s. Pigs signify progress. Roast pork, pig’s feet, and sausages are a few of the meals prepared.

Ring-shaped or round cakes are another tradition. Those who find a tiny treat baked inside will have good luck in the new year.

One of the foods to avoid on New Year’s Day is lobster. Eating these is thought to bring setbacks because they move backwards. Chickens scratch backwards. The superstition here is that eating chicken on January 1st may cause the diner’s thoughts to linger on the past.

unwritten-1456159_960_720It’s fun to look at our habits of celebrating the coming year in our meals. There are a lot of choices, but I think I will keep buying black-eyed peas for our meal. My dad always ate them and considered that he had many good years—that’s reason enough for me to keep the tradition going.

Happy New Year!

– Sandra Merville Hart


Cameron, Meaghan. “7 Lucky New Years Foods,” Reader’s Digest, 2016/10/26

Salkeld, Lauren. “Lucky Foods for the New Year,” Epicurious, 2016/10/26

“Ten Good Luck Foods For the New Year,” Woman’s Day, 2016/10/26