Black-Eyed Peas - no, not Fergie's rock band! According to Southern tradition in the States dating back to the American CivilWar, black-eyed peas have been thought to bring prosperity to those that consume them on the first day of the New Year, because peas resemble coins.
Another food tradition from the American South is eating corn bread to attract new found wealth in the New Year. This tradition stems from the golden color of corn bread resembling real gold. To make sure there's plenty of gold in your future, check out some famous cornbread recipes.
In Japan Buckwheat Soba noodles are an important part of the Japanese New Year Celebrations. The long noodles are meant to symbolize long life, and you should take care to eat them without breaking the noodles. Buddhist Monks also eat a type of crunchy noodles at midnight on New Year's Eve, and in Buddhist temples bells are rung 108 times.
In Poland, you might get the munchies for lucky doughnuts. Foods like doughnuts or bagels which are shaped like rings are thought by some people to represent the year coming full circle, and are believed to bring luck. Or if you're like Homer Simpson, you really don't need a particular day to consider doughnuts your lucky charm!
Greens like kale and collard greens look like folded money when cooked, so they're eaten for wealth. Guess that's how "cabbage" became associated with dollar bills! Like Southern greens, eating cabbage on New year's Eve is thought to bring the ingester money in the upcoming year
Pigs are considered lucky in various parts of the world because they root forward, so you might want to think about "pigging out" on a roast suckling pig this year. Why is pork so widely associated with the New Year? Perhaps the rich meat signifies a rich life. Others point to the pig's role as a symbol of wealth and fertility throughout history.
In Latin countries, at the stroke of Midnight, revelers are superstitious enough to eat 12 grapes to welcome in the New Year! In Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador, and Peru, it is often traditional to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, one for each month in the coming year. Some people say the name of the month as they eat each grape, and if that grape is sweet, it will be a good month.
In Italy, similar to the black-eyed peas' theory, since lentils and raisins resemble coins, when accompanied by that pig roast above, you may be looking at a very prosperous New Year. Italians are also known to ring in the New Year with fatty sausages, hoping to fatten up their wallets as a result.
From the Philippines, New Year's even party-goers collect 7 different types of round fruits. The round shape of the fruits symbolizes money and seven is believed to be a lucky number. Set on the dinner, the fruits are believed to bring prosperity and a sound financial status for the coming year.
Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year's table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, cod has been a popular dish since the Middle Ages. Cod is considered a lucky New Year's food and eating it at the start of the year is said to help insure a bountiful catch throughout the next 365 days.
In Greece - a cake baked with a coin inside -- is traditionally consumed on New Year's Day. The cake commemorates a miracle said to have occurred back in the Ottoman Empire. Legend has it that a Bishop of Greece recovered a large portion's of the country's riches back from the Ottomans, but when he tried to redistribute them, the people fought over which property belonged to which person. Saint Basil is said to have asked the women of Greece to bake a cake with the riches inside. When he sliced the cake, the goods miraculously found their way to their proper owners.
If you plan to eat lobster on New Year's eve, just make sure you finish what's on your plate by midnight. After the last stroke of the 12, lobster becomes bad luck for New Year's revelers. Lobsters scoot backward in the water -- just like a chicken scratches backward -- and consumption of either on New Year's Day might cause life to back up uncomfortably.
If you missed any of these foods on New Year's eve or day - not to worry - - you'll have another chance to celebrate on the Chinese New Year! This year it falls on Valentine's Day (February 14) and it's the Year of the Tiger! However - I would not suggest cooking up some Tiger's tailin hopes of receiving prosperity or luck. There's one Tiger that tried that trick back in 2009 and it didn't work out too well for him!!!