New Year’s Eve Culinary Traditions around the World

December 16, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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The city of Malaga, Spain, visited on a Spain food tour.All around the world on New Year’s Eve, people take part in traditions that they hope will usher in a dash of good luck for the coming year. Many of these traditions are food related. While you can learn more holiday cooking traditions in a cooking class or during one of our amazing cooking vacations, here are some of the fun ones to take part in this year before the clock tolls twelve times.

In Germany and Poland, they dine on herrings, while in Brazil and Italy, lentils are in order. Since lentils plump when you cook them, they’re thought to signify increased wealth. Here in the US the tradition is similar, but with black eyed peas or other beans, preferably one for each day of the year!

Similarly, in Spain, lentils represent coins; the more you eat for lunch, the greater the chances the new year will bring both wealth and good luck. Spain, Portugal, and Peru also have a fun tradition when the countdown to the new year begins. Every time the clock tolls, eat a grape. If you manage to eat all 12, you’ll have good luck in Spain and Portugal — but in Peru you need a 13th to ensure a happy fate for the year.

Try these New Year’s cocktails.

Visiting the village during your Greek cooking vacation.Leave some food on your dinner plate in Germany until after midnight; this is supposed to ensure that you’ll have plenty to eat for the next 365 days. Then, it’s over to Greece, where they bake a coin into bread. If the third slice contains the coin, expect an early Spring. In Cuba, Portugal, Spain, Austria, and Hungary, it’s thought that pigs can bring good luck; for example, in Austria, gain good luck by dining on suckling pig, followed by a dessert of green peppermint ice cream that is set in a design of a four-leaf clover.

Learn how to make a New Year’s toast.

Cooking Vacations Basque CountryWe hope you had a wonderful time with friends, family, and loved ones this cooking holiday season, and whether you’re eating grapes, pig, or lentils, we wish you lots of luck. Best wishes, and we’ll see you in 2013.

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Originally published December 31, 2012.

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