New Year's Celebrations Around the World include These Lucky Foods

Bring some extra prosperity to your family this year with these tasty customs from around the world

By Kristen Wright-Matthews / Brenna Gutell December 28, 2023

Did you know that people in different countries around the world eat "lucky" foods to celebrate the New Year? There are many long time cultural traditions behind these "lucky" foods symbolizing prosperity, abundance and good health for the coming year. Why not ring in the new year with your family by trying some as you celebrate the end of the old year and welcome the new! I've included a bit about the tradition of each of these "lucky" foods, I've also included some recipes for you and your family to enjoy. Your kids will get a taste for other cultures in the process! 

No matter which foods you bring to the table for New Year's, I hope the new year is filled with happiness, prosperity, health, and good luck for you and your family!


Publisher for Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas

Ricardolmagen from Getty Images Signature via Canva

I grew up in Los Angeles, but was raised in a very Southern household. My mother is a Louisiana Creole, born and raised in New Orleans. My father hails from Charleston, South Carolina, where the Gullah cultures' imprint runs deep. So our New Year's table was legendarily festive and full of food that was supposed to bring us happiness, prosperity, health, and good luck for the following 12 months. We'd always have family members and friends who stopped by on New Year's knowing there was a huge feast on 77th Street.  

According to Southern traditions, if you eat a traditional New Year’s Day meal of greens "the color of money," black-eyed peas "luck" and rice, cornbread, and for some, potlikker soup - the cooking liquid from collards or turnip greens, along with other vegetables and ham, you will have good luck for the entire year. 

In our home, we also had greens and cabbage for prosperity. We had black-eyed peas and Hoppin’ John, also known as Carolina peas and rice. My mom put a N’awlins twist on everything, cooking her black-eyed peas down and making a roux as you would for red beans.

Here's a few Southern Style recipes to get you started:

Happy New Year,

Kristen Wright-Matthews

Various parts of the country have different New Year's traditions, many were brought to America from the homeland as people immigrated here. Pennsylvanian's Dutch heritage features pork and sauerkraut because is a time to look forward, and a pig cannot turn its head to look back. Chicken and turkey, however, are considered bad luck because they bury the past by scratching backward in the dirt. Adding some extra confusion, some cultures consider red foods luck, but white are not although some of the foods listed are white - hmmm. Maybe let's not get too caught up in the details as we enjoy some of these foods around the world, I wish everyone a lucky New Year!

Here’s a list of some foods that might make an appearance on the New Year’s Day table:  

Agero Agnis via Canva


You’ve heard the saying there are lots of fish in the sea. Fish swim forward and in schools and symbolize abundance. Some Asian traditions suggest eating the whole fish, head, tail and all will bring prosperity. While you might not eat the silvery scales, they resemble coins. Also know that not all seafood is considered lucky. It's recommended to skip shellfish as most swim sideways instead of forward and stay away from bottom feeders as they bring bad luck and we don't want that. 

Leung Cho Pan via Canva


Eating noodles is a New Year's custom in a variety of Asian countries, but only long noodles as they are thought to bring long life - try to eat them without breaking them! Japanese soba noodles made from buckwheat are thought to bring resilience. You will also see noodles eaten during the Lunar New Year's celebration.


Also a staple of Lunar new year celebrations symbolizing longevity and wealth.


A well known symbol of not just prosperity, but fertility, one reason rice is included as a wedding tradition. You can pair it with other lucky foods like beans, lentils or greens to increase your abundance.


Enjoyed around the world for a prosperous new year - they resemble little coins and especially popular in Italy.

nadianb via Canva

Green foods

Green is the color of money so of course it's luck! In addition to more famous greens like collard greens, you can try kale, spinach, cabbage. Don't forget the sauerkraut, or even green vegetables for some extra green luck plus they are good for you. Lets not forget our favorite green fruit, the avocado.  And who doesn't need to eat more green foods for a healthy new year! 

lyckligaedda from Getty Images via Canva


There are lots of different kinds of bread consumed for New Year's celebrations. Cornbread is one, especially in the south and soft pretzels are popular in Germany. An old Celtic custom is to celebrate with a slice of buttered bread to protect from future hunger. 

ClarkandCompany from Getty Images Signature via Canva

Cakes and Pastries 

Many cakes and pastries served to celebrate the New Year are round or ring-shaped because this signifies completion - the year coming full circle. In addition to many specially cakes and pastries from around the world you also have your choice of ring shaped donuts and bagels. In some places, a special cake is made with a coin baked inside. The person who gets the slice with the coin - silver or gold - is considered very lucky!

bigdog82 from Getty Images via Canva


In Spain, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents good luck, one for each month of the coming year. 

Round Fruits

In addition to grapes there are many others to choose from;  apples and oranges to start. Fresh mandarin oranges are one of the main symbols of Chinese New Year. They are said to bring prosperity, and having one with the stem and leaf attached will bring you a long life and fertility.

Katernina from Getty Images via Canva


The seeds have always been associated with fertility. In Greece, they smash whole pomegranates to the floor to release a flood of seeds that symbolize life and abundance - don't do this at home as they are very messy. Personally I love them too much to do that, I'll stick to eating them instead. 

Bill Oxford from Getty Images Signature via Canva


In Mexico eating tamales is big for not only Christmas, but also on New Year's. It can be a special time for families to get together and make tamales for celebrations. They represent the family bond throughout generations.

Make your own tamales:

TerriC from pixabay via Canva


Last, but not least we cannot forget the bubbly as we toast to the new year. If your kids are joining, you could use sparkling water with fruit, sparkling juice or half and half sparking water and juice.

If they want to try the real thing make some of these New Year's Eve Kid-Friendly DIY Champagne Cupcakes

Did I leave out any of our favorites?

Let me know:

This previously shared article has been edited and updated

by Brenna Gutell, Publisher for Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas