Can there be more to New Year's than Champagne? Indeed, most countries that recognize the beginning of the calendar year on January 1st center their celebrations around a meal or a particular food. The whole glass of bubbly tradition may itself be a throwback to the French reveillon, a holiday dinner full of expensive indulgences.
In general, food can be very symbolic, and there's no more auspicious time than the New Year for food to take on a number of meanings. Traditions comfort and mark time, but for this holiday they also signify hopes and dreams for the next year. Popular dishes are pork, its fatty richness standing in for affluence, or fish, like carp, a once expensive and rare fish that Germans typically eat on New Year's.
Round foods are a common theme, which probably symbolize both wealth (coins) and fertility (the female shape). Various comforting, savory dishes with lentils and black-eyed peas are eaten around the world including the American South, Brazil, and Italy among other countries. Meanwhile in the Philippines, people collect round fruit like papaya and oranges to put on their tables during the New Year's feast, Media Noche, and throughout Spain, Portugal and Latin America, people pop 12 grapes in their mouth before the stroke of midnight.
Special New Year's revelries like Hogmanay in Scotland and Junkanoo in the Bahamas become a way to honor the culture and national favorites. To be sure, haggis makes an appearance among the fireworks at Hogmanay parties, and you can pretty much find conch everything during Nassau's colorful parade days. Whether bizarre or familiar, these 15 New Year's food traditions are so delicious, it makes us wish that the holiday came around more than once a year.