Every country around the world has different traditions and customs that includes new years food traditions – unique foods that are served only on New Year’s Eve. Often there is a good luck element to the chosen food or the way in which it’s eaten. If you’re going to one of the destinations I’ve listed below to celebrate New Year (I recommend South Korea – best partying in the world!!) then you’ll know what to expect as you welcome in 2018.
Unique New Years Food Traditions
South Korea – A Lucky Soup
The Koreans celebrate Seollal or the Lunar New Year in January or February each year, and Koreans say they gain a year in age with the arrival of the New Year. That means everyone in Korea becomes a year older at the new year!
The festival lasts for three days and tteokguk soup is always served to launch the celebrations. It’s made of beef, vegetables and egg, along with sliced rice cakes and kimchi dumplings. As well as being super-tasty, the soup is associated with bringing good health and long life – a great way to begin a New Year.
Pennsylvania and Ohio – Providential Pork
In the Pennsylvania Dutch communities in the US, it’s traditional to eat pork and sauerkraut at New Year. While pigs are considered to be lucky as they root in a forward direction when searching for food, it may be that the tradition is more about timing than anything else.
The custom was to butcher pigs shortly before the Christmas festivities and sauerkraut that was prepared with autumn cabbages would reach its pickled perfection by the end of December. However the tradition started, it still continues today. If you can’t get to the States for this New Year’s Eve, check out this popular Frank’s Kraut recipe to see how to recreate a Pennsylvanian Dutch New Year’s dinner at home.
Greece – a coin hidden in the cake
In Greece at New Year, many households choose to enjoy a traditional dinner with a dish called kokkinisto – a rich tomato and beef stew. Usually it’s accompanied by a pasta dish such as makaraonia ograten, a vegetarian version of one of Greek cuisine’s most well-known pasta dishes, pastitsio.
Following the New Year’s meal, it’s usual to serve Vasilopita, the traditional New Year’s cake or bread. Like the customary sixpence in an English Christmas pudding or the feve in the French galette des rois, Vasilopita bread has a coin hidden in it before it’s baked.
When the Vasilopita is cut (usually by the eldest in the family), the first slice is traditionally set aside for Christ and the second for the household. As the rest of the cake is served, the anticipation rises to see which lucky person will get the coin – and be extra lucky in the year to come.
If you fancy sampling this Greek delicacy, be warned – it’s a tough one to make yourself. Your best bet is to head out to a Greek restaurant or bring the restaurant to you and engage the services of delivery service Deliveroo. That said, the best place to participate in the Vasilopita tradition on New Year’s Eve would be on a stunning Greek island.
Spain – 12 grapes for good luck
Part of the Spanish New Year traditions involves a custom that’s really simple to prepare for. All you need is a bunch of grapes big enough so that everyone celebrating with you can have 12 lucky grapes at midnight. It’s a good luck tradition to eat one grape on each stroke of the midnight chimes. This custom, known as las doces uvas de la suerte, dates back to 1985 when, to mark the holiday, the King shared out grapes with his people following an exceptional harvest.
Of course, grapes may be the only thing that most Spanish people would feel like eating by the time they’ve got to midnight on New Year’s Eve. That’s because the preceding hours are usually spent on a huge, multi-course family dinner, which is followed by fresh fruit, nuts and turron – Spanish nougat bars. Find out more about what goes into turron from El Almendro, one of Spain’s biggest turron manufacturers. As dinner usually only begins at 9pm at the earliest, there’s not much time to let a huge dinner digest before you have your midnight grapes!
With such varied traditions around the world for New Year, if you’re travelling for the next one, make sure you read up on local customs before you go!