The New Year is upon us, and inevitably that brings with it the idea of new beginnings. Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions, or just a determination to put the previous year behind you, the beginning of another cycle around the sun is typically a time of looking forward. Many cultures feel that how you start a new year sets the tone for the year to come, and to that end there are all sorts of traditions and superstitions about how to make sure it’s a good one. And while jumping off chairs or dumping water on people do sound like lots of fun, our favorite New Years traditions, would have to be the ones about food. Here are five different New Year food traditions from around the world, and how you can celebrate them here!
In Spain and Portugal (and places heavily influenced by their culture, such as Latin America and the Philippines) it is traditional to eat twelve grapes to ring in the new year. The twelve grapes represent the twelve months to come, and eating a grape for each month was considered a way to ensure prosperity that lasts all year. But beware a sour grape, as that could mean the corresponding month will be equally bitter! Typically the twelve grapes were eaten in conjunction with the twelve strokes of midnight, though the difficulty of eating twelve grapes that fast means that nowadays many people just make a point of eating them, and worry less about the specific timing. If you’d like to participate in the tradition of eating grapes for the New Year, consider ordering our Strawberry Field Greens salad, or our Cubed Cheese and Fruit tray!
From the kransekage in Denmark to the donuts in Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands, ring shaped foods are another common way to “ring” in the New Year. The ring shape represents the year coming full circle. This is both about closing out the old year, and symbolically wanting the new year to be one of completion and wholeness. Kransekage, the marzipan cake made of stacked concentric rings “glued” together with icing, may be a little hard to come by outside of a specialty bakery, so if you’d like to partake of ring shaped foods that are a bit healthier than donuts, consider trying the bagels on our Sunrise and Continental breakfasts.
Pork as a symbol of prosperity seems to be a near-worldwide concept, but nowhere moreso than in Germany, where pork is already such an important dietary staple. Between pigs roundness representing abundance, their fatty flesh representing plenty, the ownership of one representing wealth, and the way they move forward while foraging representing progress; the pig is just about the luckiest symbol for the New Year you could ask for. Well, for the person eating the pig at least, probably less so for the pig being eaten. To add this extra lucky symbol to your diet in the new year, consider trying the pork carnitas that come with our Street Taco appetizer, or the pork sausage that comes with all of our hot Breakfast Bakes.
Fish are frequently thought to represent wealth due to the way fish scales so closely resemble coins. In the Scandanavian countries, fish held extra importance due to the reliance on seafood as a primary food source. Having fish in the new year meant you’d had an abundance of both fish to catch and salt to preserve them, and eating them was symbolic of that abundance continuing through the next year. Fish also played a large part in contributing toward the establishment of trade routes through the mainland, making it symbolic of growth and spreading influence. For an abundance of fish in your new year, check out the Southwest Grill from the hot buffet section of our menu, or our Chili Citrus Salmon boxed salad.
Some green. Greenbacks. Moolah. Eating greens for the New Year is as all-American as you can get because it’s all about the cash. All kinds of greens – from spinach to kale to spring greens to regular leaf lettuce – are thought to represent wealth due to their similarity to American currency. In the South, collared greens are traditional for ringing in the New Year, whereas the Midwest and areas with a more Germanic influence are more likely to skew toward cabbage in the form of sauerkraut. Regardless of the form, “getting some green” seems to be something all Americans can agree on wanting in their New Year. Here at Gourmet to Go, any of our boxed salads should fit the “bill” for that particular culinary tradition, or for a more unique take, try the grilled hearts of romaine that come with our Huntsman Platter.