New Year’s Culinary Traditions From Around the Globe

Christian Papadellis
by Christian Papadellis

December 30, 2021

4 minute read

Need an entrée or appetizer to go with your champagne on New Year’s? Well, how about you try one of these delicious meals.


One of the most beautiful things about major holidays is that different cultures all over the world have their own unique traditions. From sweet and simple pieces of fruit to hearty casseroles, we’ve got ten perfect sidedishes to add to your New Year’s party menu.



Hoppin’ John

This simple dish made up of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork has been a staple of New Year’s Day meals in many southern families in the United States since the early nineteenth century. Occasionally served with a side of collard greens and cornbread, this dish is traditionally believed to bring good luck.


Twelve Grapes

A tradition officially established in 1909, eating twelve grapes (one for every stroke of the clock at midnight) has become a favourite New Year’s custom in Spain. Though said to bring good luck and ward off evil, the trend caught on to better sell huge numbers of grapes after an excellent harvest. Now the tradition is celebrated in other Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world.



In the Netherlands, temperatures can dip well below freezing on New Year’s Eve. What better way to warm up than with these hot, deep-fried treats! Fun fact: this tradition began as a means to ward off the evil pagan goddess, Perchta. These fatty pastries were said to produce enough fat for Perchta’s sword to slide right off her human victims.


Soba Noodles

All over Japan, it’s a well observed tradition to eat a bowl of Soba—a type of noodle made with buckwheat. Like many dishes on this list, Soba noodles are thought to bring good luck for the new year. The noodle’s length are often considered a symbol of longevity and the hardiness of the buckwheat plant symbolizes resilience. Lastly, the noodles, once cooked, are easy to break apart—symbolizing a clean break with any hardships of the year before.



In Italy, lentils (commonly served with pork and/or sausage) on New Year’s Eve symbolize wealth and prosperity. This is partially because they were once believed to resemble Roman coins. Lentils are also associated with New Year’s Eve in several other countries including the Czech Republic, Chile, and Brazil.



In Greece and Turkey, pomegranates are a traditional part of a New Year’s celebration where they symbolize good luck, fertility, and prosperity. In fact, in Greece it’s an ancient tradition to break open a pomegranate on a doorstep on New Year’s Day.



Coming from a Greek family myself, the Vasilopita (named after Saint Basil’s Day on January 1) is one of my personal favourite traditions. Similar to a King’s Cake on Mardi Gras, the Vasilopita typically contains a hidden coin. If you find the hidden coin in your slice of the cake, that means you have good luck for the upcoming year.


Suckling Pig

In multiple countries—Spain, Cuba, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria to name a few—a suckling pig is a centuries-old tradition. Like many other foods and dishes on this list, the pig symbolizes good luck, good fortune, and prosperity in the New Year.



If champagne just isn’t your vibe on New Year’s, might I suggest a whiskey. In Scotland, they do just that. On what is called “Hogmanay,” the Scottish perform a ritual called “first-footing” in which the first person (preferably a tall, dark-haired, and handsome man according to tradition) to cross the threshold of a home in the new year is said to set the precedent for the new year. This custom is almost always followed with a wee dram of whiskey.



Whatever corner of the world you may be celebrating in, Happy New Year to you and yours from all of us at Collette!

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