In our family, New Year's Eve dinner meant sandwiches made from deli meats purchased at Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore. I can still remember the sawdust on the floor and the faint smell of...well, let's not go there. My mother-in-law eats grapes and wears funny colored socks to usher in prosperity with the new year.
There are a ton of traditional meals and customs that come along with the celebration of the start of a new year. We don't do anything apart from eat, drink a little champagne, and hope to stay up late enough to see the ball drop on TV. Wow--that's pretty lame.
If you're looking to adopt a new year's tradition into your celebration, here are a few to try out:
- Black-Eyed Peas: This is a Southern-US tradition and are served with cooked greens and pork (see below). They're meant to represent prosperity and the custom of eating them at the start of the year dates back to the Civil War.
- Cooked Greens: Cabbage, collard greens, kale, chard, etc. are cooked and served on New Year's all over the world. The cooked greens represent money and--let's face it--who doesn't want more of that each year?
- Pork: Eating pork symbolized progress because pigs push forward, rooting themselves in the ground before moving. Hmmm...ok. Pigs taste good, that's for sure. And their fatty richness could also symbolize wealth. No matter why they're eaten, pork products are consumed all over the world in all sorts of varieties: roast suckling pig, pork sausage, pigs' feet, etc. Or marzipan pigs if you prefer the non-meat variety.
- Grapes: According to my mother-in-law, you're supposed to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve. Each grape represents a different month, so if the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. This is mostly a custom in Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican, Cuban, Venezuelan and other Latin American cultures.