New Year’s Day Food Traditions

Happy New Year! The first day of each year has people around the world celebrating with various food traditions. The eating of certain foods and traditions are in hopes to promote good luck, health, wealth, prosperity and more in the upcoming year. Growing up in Florida, the Southern Tradition of eating black eyed peas for good luck is something that my mom always served on New Year’s day. Good thing I like to eat black eyed peas! Another tradition is eating collard greens on the first day of the New Year and it’s said to encourage a prosperous year.

New Year's Day Palabok

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Pancit Palabok

Another food tradition is eating noodles, which represents long life in Asian cultures. In the Philippines, pancit noodle dishes are made to signify long life and eggs signify new life. My food partner O.D. made some semi-homemade Pancit Palabok for New Year’s this year. It’s semi-homemade because to make the sauce that tops the noodles is very labor intensive, so the short cut is to use a powered packet that is simmered in hot water and it thickens into the traditional sauce. It’s placed on top of the rice noodles that have been boiled and everything is garnished with crushed pieces of pork rinds, bits of fried garlic, green onion, and sliced eggs. A wedge of calamansi (a small sweet and tart citrus fruit) is also a garnish that is squeezed for some tartness and acidity to the rich and savory noodle dish.

New Year's Day Pork

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Orden de carnitas from El Charro Mexican Restaurant in Arcadia, FL.

A common New Year’s food tradition found in many cultures is eating pork. Pork dishes are eaten for wealth and prosperity. It’s not something I really grew up with as a tradition for New Years, but any excuse to eat tasty pork sounds good to me. Orden de carnitas translates into “order of carnitas” and carnitas are braised or roasted pork in Mexican cuisine. So I celebrated by eating this plate of pork carnitas that was served with rice, beans, salad, avocado and a side of corn tortillas.

I think these two meals that I ate on January 1, 2013 will bring some good luck, prosperity, and a long life. I missed out on the black eyed peas and collard greens this year though, hopefully the noodles and pork were enough.

What food traditions do you practice or what food do you eat for the New Year? Leave me a comment below and let me know your traditions…

Words and photos by Julius Mayo Jr.
Content and photos © 2013

Photographer’s note: photos taken with iPhone 4s

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