10 Traditional Chinese New Year Foods and Their Meanings

10  Traditional Chinese New Year Foods and Their Meanings
6 min read
08 December 2022

10 Lucky Recipes for a Traditional New Year's Dinner

what to eat on new year's day for good luck

    Many countries have lucky ways to kickstart a new year. In the American South, black-eyed peas, greens, pork, and cornbread are just some of the typical symbolic foods, while other cultures believe in longevity noodles, dumplings, or grapes to your menu. For luck and prosperity in the year ahead, here are some delicious things to eat—and some to steer clear of.
hat to Eat on New Year's Day
According to popular folklore, if these foods are eaten on New Year's Day, they guarantee good luck throughout the year.

Peas or beans are said to symbolize coins or wealth. Choose traditional black-eyed peas, lentils, or beans to make a dish seasoned with pork, ham or sausage.
Greens resemble money, specifically folding money. Make dishes using boiled cabbage or sauerkraut, collard greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, or other green, leafy vegetables to ensure good fortune for the coming year.
Pork is considered a sign of prosperity in some cultures because pigs root forward. Many Southern New Year's Day dishes contain pork or ham, but feel free to serve a pork roast or baked ham as an entrée.
Cornbread might symbolize gold, and besides, it is essential with black-eyed peas and greens.
In other cultures, fish, grapes, and ring-shaped cakes or doughnuts, or cakes with special treats inside symbolize luck.

What Not to Eat on New Year's Day
Some believe that lobster could cause bad luck in the coming year because it moves in a backward direction and could mean setbacks in the year ahead.
For the same reason, some believe chicken dishes should be avoided New Years Day. Chickens scratch backward, plus they are winged so your luck could fly away. 

Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas

Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas

In the South, a dish of black-eyed peas is thought to guarantee prosperity when eaten on New Year's Day. This Cajun-spiced version starts with dried black-eyed peas and salt pork. Ham, vegetables, and Cajun seasonings flavor the peas

Tsukimi Soba

Tsukimi Soba

In Japan, a bowl of soba is typically eaten as the final meal on New Year's Eve. The buckwheat noodles have long symbolized good fortune in Japanese culture. Toshikoshi soba is the traditional name for the "year-passing" noodle soup.

Slow Cooker Hoppin' John

Slow Cooker Hoppin' John

This slow cooker hoppin' John is another great way to fix your lucky black-eyed peas. The earliest printed recipe for hoppin' John is from an 1847 cookbook, The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge. This version of the famous dish includes a ham hock and chicken stock. Still, it can easily be a vegetarian dish by omitting the ham hock and using vegetable broth.

Chinese Pan-Fried Dumplings

Chinese Pan-Fried Dumplings

In Chinese culture, dumplings symbolize wealth, so they are often eaten as part of a Lunar New Year's meal. That usually occurs in January or February according to the lunar calendar, but dumplings make for a delicious start to the regular new year as well. These pan-fried pockets are filled with a tasty mixture of ground pork, cabbage, and green onion.



In Greece, the pomegranate is considered a symbol of prosperity and regeneration. Their New Year's tradition involving the pomegranate is unique and somewhat complicated. A pomegranate is hung in the doorway of a family home. Just before midnight, the family turns out the lights and steps out the door. Just after the stroke of midnight, the first member of the family steps in, right foot first. The second member takes the pomegranate in their right hand and smashes it against the door, revealing the seeds. The amount of luck depends on the number of seeds scattered. 

Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

Aside from the fact that the bright yellow color resembles gold, buttermilk cornbread is essential with greens, peas, or beans in the South. Southern cornbread contains little or no sugar, but feel free to add some if you like a sweeter version

Boiled Cabbage With Bacon

Boiled Cabbage With Bacon

Cabbage is another excellent choice for the greens portion of a lucky New Year's meal. This boiled cabbage with bacon is a super easy preparation, using only four ingredients plus salt and pepper. For vegetarians and vegans, omit the bacon and replace the chicken stock with vegetable broth. Or use a meat-free bacon replacement.

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In Germany, sauerkraut is thought to bring wealth and blessings in the new year. In fact, every strand of fermented cabbage symbolizes money. This recipe for sauerkraut makes one quart, the perfect size for a family New Year's celebration. Start making the sauerkraut about 8 days before the end of the year.

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

If you aren't a fan of black-eyed peas, you might opt for classic Southern-style red beans and rice. Spicy Cajun andouille sausage and aromatic vegetables season the beans to perfection.

Skillet Mexican Cornbread

Skillet Mexican Cornbread

You might like this spicy skillet Mexican cornbread instead of a more traditional variation. Sour cream, chili peppers, cheese, and cream-style corn add moistness and flavor to this bread. If you crave heat, add some jalapeño peppers or replace the cheddar cheese with pepper jack cheese.


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