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New Year, Traditional Eats: Superstitions Steeped in Food

Krista Fredrick

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Krista Fredrick | December 29, 2014 | 0

In many countries, the start of the New Year is marked by consuming traditional foods. Some are eaten to bring good fortune, others to encourage fame or happiness. If you’ve ever wondered where pork and sauerkraut, black-eyed peas, and other traditional New Year foods originated, you’re not alone. We scoured the globe to find a few of the more interesting offerings and how they came about.

Sour Grapes?

We hope not. According to revelers in Spain, the sweetness of your grapes, or lack thereof, is a harbinger of how your new year will flow. Party-goers consume 12 grapes at midnight — one for each toll of the bell. Sweet grapes are said to predict good months, and sour grapes bring on the bad. So, if that last grape makes you pucker, it could mean the holidays next year will be anything but jolly.

The twelve grapes at midnight is a tradition started in 1909 by an over-abundant fruit harvest and a few savvy grape growers from the Alicante region of Spain. What started as a simple ploy to sell grapes has transcended the years to become a fun superstition.

Greens for the Green

If it’s wealth that you’re craving in the New Year, fill your plate that first day with black-eyed peas, collar

New Year, Traditional Eats Superstitions Steeped in Food

d greens, and cornbread. According to legend, the peas represent pennies. The greens equal dollars and the cornbread will bring you gold untold. Eating poor on the first day of the year paves the way for heartier meals as the year progresses.

This legend has been passed down for generations in the South, and became a staple for southerners who wanted to ensure prosperity in the New Year. Collard greens are a late crop in the South. They are the perfect green for New Year’s Day. Black-eyed peas have a history that dates back to the Civil War: Sherman’s Union troops burned everything as they marched across southern plantations but the cow peas. Because the peas were spared, the southerners made it through winter. And ever since, the pairing of collard greens and black-eyed peas with cornbread has been the go-to southern dish for New Year’s Day.

Pork for Progress

More lucky foods for New Year include pork and sauerkraut. The Pennsylvania Dutch, with their roots planted firmly in German traditions, is rumored to have brought this tasty dish to America. If you’re up on your German folklore, you know that pigs root forward, signal progress and momentum throughout the year. Sauerkraut — at least in the North — is simply a perfect complementary side dish.

It’s said that families who begin the New Year with a hearty meal of pork and sauerkraut will experience good luck throughout.

So if you’re looking for luck or money in the New Year, you need look no further than the traditional foods on your first-day plate. Serve up something savvy, and next December might find you juggling untold wealth and happiness — at least for the superstitious among us or for those grounded in old family traditions.

Grapes, greens, and black-eyed peas — it’s what’s for New Year’s dinner.

Source

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/12/28/12-grapes-midnight-spains-great-new-years-eve-trad, http://www.austinchronicle.com/food/2008-12-26/718923/, http://www.foodtimeline.org/newyear.html

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