We bet you know what your country’s gastronomic traditions are for ringing in the new year, but do you know what foods and dishes are customary in other countries? To help you get to know a little more about Christmas traditions, we have summarized some of the most surprising and traditional New Year’s cuisines for you.
In Germany and some Central European countries, leafy greens are considered to bring good luck, therefore it is typical to prepare fermented cabbage in the traditional dish known as Sauerkraut. Also, the end of the year dinner is usually accompanied with raclette cheese (melted cheese).
In China there is a belief that lettuce brings good luck because of the similarity between the word “lettuce” and “luck” in Cantonese, so the Chinese make lettuce leaf rolls stuffed with other foods. Likewise, as a symbol of a long and prosperous life, noodles are also prepared as part of the dinner tradition.
In such a traditional country with a deeply rooted culture like Japan, ending the year would not be complete without a special meal. A few days before the celebration, it is customary to prepare the Osechi Ryouri, an array of various foods, typical of the Japanese New Year (Oshogatsu). This dinner symbolizes good luck, health, and a prosperous life.
The Filipino tradition consists of celebrating New Year’s Eve, known as Media Noche (Midnight), with foods that are round or circular, especially fruit, like oranges or cantaloupe. This is because the shape is believed to bring prosperity and good luck.
In some places, legumes are considered to be good luck. That is why in Italy it is customary to serve lentils during the New Year, usually accompanied with other dishes like pork or zampone (salami made with pork leg).
To start the new year with fortune and good health, the Spanish custom is to eat 12 grapes. Tradition says you have to eat a grape for each bell that rings the night of December 31, known as Nochevieja, and whoever does so will have a prosperous year.
In the United States we can find different gastronomic traditions around this time depending on which part of the country we find ourselves. For example, in the South, it is typical to cook stews containing beans, namely pinto beans. One popular dish is called Hoppin ‘John, a dish made of peas and rice served with cooked vegetables.
In some southern areas, cornbread is eaten since its golden color resembles gold.
In the North, particularly in Pennsylvania, the tradition is to eat sauerkraut, just as it is in Germany, as previously mentioned.
In Greece, it is typical to make Vasilopita, a sweet bread for the new year on January 1st, which coincides with the Greek festival of St. Basil. Vasilopita is a round, bread-like cake cut crosswise with a hidden coin or ring inside, believed to bring good luck to the person who finds it.
A Colombian gastronomic tradition passed down from generation to generation, is preparing tamales at the end of the year, particularly in the region of Tolima. The tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and stuffed with either pork or chicken, often accompanied with corn bread and even chocolate. Other typical recipes used for the celebration are Sansocho de Gallina (Colombian chicken and vegetable soup) or suckling pig.
French, true to his wine tradition celebrate New Year’s Eve toasting with “champagne” and accompanying dinner with white wine and warm wine, a dinner where you can not miss a good selection of cheeses and foie gras.
To celebrate the Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to go to synagogue to pray, followed by a family meal that is never without apples smeared with honey. This dish symbolizes a sweet year.
A symbol of good luck for Canadians is to make bean soup for the new year. Apparently, this practice may have been adopted from the southern United States.
In both of these countries, the circular shape that resembles a ring is a symbol of fortune as they feel it represents the closing or termination of the year. That is why for the New Year, they make a crown-like cake, called Kransekake. This cake forms concentric rings and is made with almonds, sugar and egg whites, just like marzipan.
If any dish were to stand out during Christmas time in Russia, it would be the salads, something fundamental on the New Year’s table. You can prepare different types of salads, the most well-known being the Olivié salad which is made with boiled potatoes, egg, carrots, onions, peas, cucumbers, and pickles.
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