The New Year is right around the corner, and let’s face it: We could use a little extra luck. While the jury is still out on the best way to encourage good luck to come into your life, legend has it you can tip the odds in your favor by eating the right things, especially on New Year’s Day.
Each year, my grandfather whips up a batch of Hoppin’ John for some extra luck in the New Year, and no two batches are the same. Sometimes he adds in peppers; other times tomatoes. Two ingredients always remain the same: black-eyed peas and smoked ham from the Low Country. If nothing else, eating this dish with my family makes me feel lucky, and the comfort of the food and the ritual brings a sense of wholeness.
Hoppin’ John is just one example of a lucky New Year’s food—here are a bunch of options if black-eyed peas are not your style. From cake to a whole-roasted fish, we’ve searched for the luckiest options to add to your feast. Let’s face it: If we can’t make ourselves lucky, we might as well eat our way to it.
While cake might not have been lucky for Marie Antoinette, finding a coin cooked into a cake is considered to be lucky in Greece. If it doesn’t chip your tooth, you’re in for a year of good luck. While the Greek tradition involves a lemon cake, you could easily apply the concept to a number of other flavors.
Try: The Modern Proper’s Yogurt and Olive Oil Pistachio Cake With Lemon Buttercream
In the American South, there’s no way of getting around the black-eyed pea for New Year’s. Served up alone or in Hoppin’ John, the legume’s resemblance to coins is considered to be lucky, no matter what the presentation might be. After your New Year’s Eve bash, you’ll need the extra protein.
Try: Chelsea’s Messy Apron’s Cowboy Caviar
Also resembling coins, lentils are considered to be lucky in Italy and Brazil. Eaten since Roman times, lentils have a number of health benefits and can be a beneficial addition to your post-holiday diet. No matter how you serve them, lentils are said to bring prosperity in the coming year.
Try: Minimalist Baker’s One-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup
Roasted Whole Fish
A roasted whole fish is said to bring luck because fish represent three things: money, prosperity, and progressiveness. Their scales appear to look like money, they swim in schools (which is considered to be prosperous), and they move forward. Who wouldn’t want to be a fish?
Try: Half Baked Harvest’s Slow-Roasted Cod With Brown Sugar Pineapple Glazed Acorn Squash
In Spain and Portugal, it’s tradition to eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight in the New Year. Each grape is meant to symbolize a month in the year ahead. This practice is said to bring prosperity, so why not give it a go?
Try: Minimalist Baker’s Curried Cauliflower, Grape, and Lentil Salad
In Japan, long soba noodles are symbolic of a long life. To eat them properly, you can’t break them, so be sure to slurp away on New Year’s Day.
Try: Half Baked Harvest’s Sake and Ginger Soba Noodle Salmon Stir-Fry
It’s no secret greens are good for you. They also resemble money, and what could be luckier in the New Year? Eating your spinach or collard greens will give you vitamins and nutrients, but it could also bring a little extra wealth your way.
Try: The Butter Half’s Healthy Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl With Eggs and Spinach
During Christmastime, ring-shaped wreath symbolism abounds, and New Year’s is no exception. Only this time, the symbolism means the year has come full-circle. This auspicious food theme means it’s the perfect time to go for the doughnut or bagel before you buy in to your resolution.
Try: Half Baked Harvest’s Baked Salted-Caramel Apple-Cider Doughnuts