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New Year, Different Treats: Foods People Eat on New Year’s Eve Around the World

While some people are counting down the seconds into the New Year, others are stuffing their faces with food. The tradition of eating a specific meal on New Year’s Eve reflects the rich history of global culinary customs in different countries. From eating grapes under the table to cracking a raw egg into a glass cup, here are the foods people eat worldwide during New Year’s Eve.

Hoppin’ John: American South

In many parts of the Southern U.S., Hoppin’ John is a traditional New Year’s dish believed to bring luck in the coming year. The first occurrence of this dish can be traced back to 1841, and many Southern American families have upheld this tradition for a long time.

Courtesy: Serious Eats

Hoppin’ John is made with black-eyed peas, green vegetables, and rice, and it is commonly served with cornbread. The significance of each food ingredient includes cooked greens signifying money, peas signifying coins, and cornbread signifying gold. 

King Cake: Around the Globe

The New Year’s cake tradition is widespread and spans many cultures. King cake is usually a ring of buttery pastries covered in icing and edible sprinkles of different colors, usually yellow, green, and purple.

The cake is usually enriched with a piece of fruit or coin. Whoever gets the treasure during plating will have great luck the following year. The history of the King Cake can be traced to the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic church.  

Suckling Pig: China and Other Countries

As cake is to other cultures, the suckling pig dish is a traditional New Year’s Eve food in China and neighboring countries. The symbolism of the pig means wealth and good fortune, and it is usually displayed on a large buffet table.

Courtesy: The Food Dictator 

The pig is skinned, washed, and garnished with soy sauce and other spices. In other countries like Spain, the dish is called cochinillo and is seasoned with salt, olive oil, and garlic. 

Toshikoshi Soba: Japan

In Japan, the staple New Year’s Eve food is the toshikoshi soba noodles. The noodles are handmade to be long and thin, signifying a long and prosperous life. It is seasoned with a hot soup or paired with a cold dipping sauce. 

Courtesy: Instagram 

The significance of eating buckwheat noodles in Japan is associated with starting the new year with tasty taste buds to ensure the new year brings forth positive events. Toshikoshi Soba can be enjoyed alone or paired with toppings like kamaboko fish cakes or raw eggs.

Buñuelos: Mexico

Buñuelos are a traditional Mexican New Year’s Eve pastry that is also enjoyed during Christmas. Eating Buñuelos during the festive season brings good luck. Although the origin of the name is unclear, it is believed to have come from either Arabic or Spanish cultures.

Courtesy: Cookist

Buñuelos are made from fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar. However, the recipe may differ in different households. After rolling, cutting, and shaping, it is fried in hot oil until it is golden brown. Buñuelos can be eaten alone or served with hot chocolate.

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