New Year’s Day Menu (and Why)

The New Year’s Day menu is very important. There are some traditions and superstitions that give you a leg up on progress, luck, and good fortune for the upcoming year. Ancient customs from all over the world are shared and modified per local flavor. This is a great excuse to not only serve a delicious dinner, but to positively tempt your fate. Here is what to serve on New Year’s Day and why:

Pork: The custom of eating pork on New Year’s is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. Pigs push forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Thanks to their rich fat content, pigs signify wealth and prosperity. Grilled pork chops or a pork tenderloin are great meat choices for the main course.

Grapes: The tradition of eating grapes on New Year’s comes from Spain, where twelve grapes are consumed – one for each month. The thought is that is one (or more) of the grapes is sour, then that month could be a bit rocky. For example, if the sixth grape is sour, then June could be a bad month. This is a great hors devours for your New Year’s Day menu.

Greens: This one is easy. Cooked greens look like folded money, therefore are symbolic of economic fortune. The Germans eat sauerkraut, which goes great with pork, and in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice.

Black Eyed Peas: Another symbol of financial reward. The small, seed-like appearance resembles coins that swell, resembling coins that swell when cooked. Again, black-eyed peas go well with pork chops, so you are all set.

Mashed Potatoes: There is no tradition or symbol from mashed potatoes. But, they are delicious, and finish off the menu swimmingly.

Honey Dinner Rolls: Honey is said to endure sweetness for the coming year, a belief that dates back to Roman times. Brush the tray of dinner rolls with honey to keep everyone smiling.

Cakes: A round cake should finish off the New Year’s Day menu, as the ring shaped dish symbolizes good fortune. In cultures around the world, a special trinket (an almond, etc.) is baked into the dessert, and whoever finds it is guaranteed good fortune in the New Year.

Some foods to avoid include lobster and chicken. Lobsters move backwards, and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chickens are discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Winged fowl should also be avoided, as your good luck could fly away.

Cheers, folks – here’s to a great 2016!


This is a piece I did for the good folks over at Onward Reserve.  


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