All too often, the New Year is ushered in with alcoholic excess, ill-advised drunken snogging and far too little sleep. Now nearly a week after the event, some may still be suffering from the effects. However, the whole world doesn't always welcome January with a throbbing head and intense feelings of regret.
Historically, food has played a significant role in how we bring in the new year. For those that may still be feeling fragile after an overly indulgent December 31st, here are some of the best New Year foodie traditions.
Fish is a prominent feature in New Year cookery for many cultures. In Northern Europe, pickled herring is the star of the show - traditionally eaten in Germany, Poland and Scandinavia. Because the fish is so abundant, eating it is supposed to signify a year of plenty for the whole family.
Pomegranates have held a significant place at the heart of European mythology for millennia. From the Ancient Greeks to the present day, the fruit has come to symbolise fertility and long lasting health. Perhaps it is little surprise that the fruit is eaten as part of New Year celebrations in Turkey as a representation of good luck.
A staple year round food source in the southern United States, cornbread has gained special status as a necessity on any New Year’s Eve table. It’s golden colour is said to be a representation of the precious metal itself, hopefully providing good fortune for the eater over the coming 12 months.
Noodles hold a special significance in Asian countries. Across the world, grains like rice and quinoa represent abundance, but in China noodles are held in particularly high regard. Here, the new year is ushered in with a stir fry of long noodles, to symbolise longevity as well as luck. Slurping is supposed to imby extra fortune on the diner.
The Italians take a very literal approach to their New Year’s symbolism. Supposedly resembling coins due to their small, round appearance, lentils are a tradition, typically served with a generous helping of Italian sausage. Usually served on January 1st, this dish is also rumoured to be a superb hangover cure.
An arguably even more stretched metaphor is the American tradition of eating leafy green vegetables. The logic is that the green colouration and thin leaves lend the food the appearance of money, and therefore will bring prosperity to the eater over the coming months. Despite dubious logic, this practise has now spread to the shores of Europe, revealing perhaps how desperate we all are for economic prosperity.
Whether as pets or as pork, the world loves pigs. In many countries, they form a key part of New Year’s tradition. Believed to symbolise progress, as they never move backwards, pork is eaten in Cuba, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Hungary as a New Year’s staple. However, the practise is not just limited to pork. In Germany, for instance, pig shaped cookies are consumed for exactly the same reason.
Fruit is a symbol of fertility in cultures across the world. However, perhaps the most specific fruit related New Year food ritual comes from Mexico. Custom dictates that Mexicans eat a grape for each stroke of midnight - the 12 strokes symbolising the months of the year. If any grapes are bitter, the eater will know to be extra wary during the corresponding month.
While it’s almost inevitable that New Year’s celebrations will have resulted in crippling self-inflicted illness, it’s good to know that there are foodie alternatives. On behalf of everyone at Twisted, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2018. May your noodles be long and your grapes sweet.