Let’s keep things simple for the New Year. If you stayed up late to bring in the new year, make the day easy by not overcomplicating your meal plans. One trick is to lean on your heritage for planning a meal for the first day.
Where I come from, we have a strong German influence and the New Year’s tradition is pork and sauerkraut. There are a lot of wonderful recipes for this holiday classic, but if you have vegetarians among your guests you might want to try a pork-free alternative. Around here, it’s considered good luck to start the year off with this traditional New Year’s dish. We also typically like to watch the Mummers in Philadelphia, PA and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.
On the other hand, it’s Southern tradition to offer cornbread or hoe cakes with black-eyed peas and collard or turnip greens on New Years’ Day to bring in the New Year and expand luck. The black-eyed peas represent luck and the greens represent wealth. The more you can eat of each, the more you’re believed to be in line to receive in the coming year.
Other countries have their traditions that you can get some interesting ideas from.
The 12 Grapes of Luck are eaten with each stroke of midnight to ensure that the New Year gets off to a proper start. The twelve grapes also represent the twelve months of the coming year. The trick is to get all of the grapes down before the clock strikes twelve. It seems an easy enough trick to pull off, but there are those who try to stuff the whole dozen in their mouths at once. Easy does it, amigos!
Served at the stroke of midnight, Cotechino con Lenticchie is considered to bring good fortune because the lentils look like tiny little coins. The more you eat, the more your fortune will mount in the coming year. A heaping helping of this hearty stew seems like a great start to a prosperous new year.
Vasilopita is a tiered coffee cake with a coin baked inside. This is served at midnight on the first morning of the new year and is dished out to the youngest members of the family first and then proceeding by age. The person who finds the coin is considered to have good fortune coming to them in the coming year. Vasilopita is literally “St Basil’s Bread”. The story is that the emperor levied a tax on the people of Caesarea, where Basil was the bishop. The tax was so onerous that people were forced to hand over family jewels and every last coin they had to their names. Basil called upon the emperor to repent. When he did, the riches were given to Basil to return to the people. Having no idea who got what, Basil baked the lot into a giant loaf of bread and shared it with the people in his congregation. Miraculously, each person received their taxed belongings back in their piece of bread.
The Russians enjoy Salad Olivie at the stroke of midnight as their traditional New Year’s treat. The great thing about being Russian is that they get two New Year’s celebrations. The Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian Calendar, which puts them about a week askew of the Gregorian Calendar. However, in order to keep in sync with the rest of the world, they have been using the Gregorian Calendar for most secular functions. This allows them to celebrate the New Year both before and after Christmas and plenty of opportunity to enjoy some Salad Olivie.
A noodle dish called Soba is the tradition on New Year’s Eve to bring in the New Year. The noodles, made from buckwheat, symbolize longevity. The proof is in the noodles, since buckwheat is gluten-free and the protein and fiber can help you lose weight.
Whatever your heritage or culture, there is probably some sort of New Year’s tradition that you may or may not know of. If you don’t know the New Year’s tradition for your ancestor’s countries of origin you can lean on a new tradition and Google it! You can use any number of these ideas for New Year’s to liven up your holiday celebrations.
What is your family’s New Year’s Tradition?