Every New Year’s my grandma breaks out the pickled herring. Not exactly the most appetizing food for the holidays, I know, but she swears that eating pickled herring will bring you good luck in the next year, so she loves it. While I could never bring myself to try it, it’s an interesting German tradition that I grew up with. People all around the world have deemed certain foods “lucky” for the new year, including pickled herring.

Long Noodles

New Years

Photo by Lily Allen

Noodles are typically prepared for Asian New Year celebrations. Long noodles in particular bring longevity for the new year, and many people believe that cutting them while cooking will shorten one’s life. Since no one wants to break one, they’re most often found in stir fry dishes. That’s a lot riding on one dish of noodles.


New Years

Photo courtesy of argiro.com.gr

This Greek cake is named after St. Basil, whose feast day is celebrated on January 1 in Greece and Eastern Europe. Similar to a king cake, vasilopita has a coin or other type of trinket baked into it and whoever finds the coin in their slice will have good luck for the rest of the year.

Pickled Herring

New Years

Photo courtesy of womansday.com

In Germany and Eastern Europe they believe that eating pickled herring at midnight will bring good luck for the coming year because herring is in abundance in Europe. They also look like silver coins, which supposedly brings wealth for the New Year.


New Years

Photo by Naib Mian

It’s tradition in Spain to eat twelve grapes as fast as you can at the stroke of midnight. Each grape signifies a month of the year and the goal is to be the first one to eat all twelve.

Pork and Sauerkraut

People eat pork on New Year’s Eve all across the world, but the Germans made it their own by adding sauerkraut. Many believe eating pork brings luck because pigs only move forward, but others believe it is because they root for food by pushing their snouts forward into the ground.

Either way, it symbolizes progress in the new year. And for all you vegetarians, foods shaped like pigs (like cookies) count too. The sauerkraut symbolizes prosperity because cabbage is slang for cash.


Photo by Maddie Stanley

Southerners rejoice, this classic food is supposed to symbolize wealth in the New Year, as it is the same color as gold. Add extra corn kernels to increase your wealth for 2015. You can even try out this vegan version.

What Not to Eat

Chicken, lobster and white foods are all off limits, unless you want bad luck. Chickens scratch backwards and lobsters move backwards, so they symbolize regression. In China, white is the color of death so avoid eggs, tofu, and white cheeses.

Check out these other New Years articles:

Celebrating Noruz (Persian New Year)
5 Must-Eat Foods For Good Luck in the New Year
A Definitive List of Good Luck Foods for the New Year