Traditional New Year’s Food from Around the World

Traditional New Year’s Food from Around the World
Reading time: 5 min

New Year’s food traditions from different countries have one important thing in common: they symbolize wealth, prosperity and eating them brings good luck in the New Year. If you want to try something different, you have plenty of options from which to choose. Nearly every country and culture have a unique New Year’s eve good luck food.

Feuerzangenbowle – Start the New Year with a German punch!

New Year’s Food Traditions - Feuerzangenbowle

Feuerzangenbowle is a type of German punch where a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine. It is usually prepared in a bowl suspended over a small burner. The bowl is filled with heated red wine spiced with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, apples, orange peels and other ingredients used for mulled wine. After the wine has heated up, a small metal grate is mounted on top of the bowl and on it, the Zuckerhat (“sugar hat”) is placed. The sugarloaf has to be soaked in strong rum and then set alight.

The drink and the ceremony it takes to prepare it are very popular in Germany. Preparing Feuerzangenbowle can be a fun and interesting activity that brings people together. Of course, the punch itself will give everyone a feeling of coziness, warm and wellbeing, something that the Germans call, Gemütlichkeit.

Cotechino e lenticchie - Beans for Good Luck!

New Year’s Food Traditions - Cotechino e lenticchie

In many cultures, Italian included, beans symbolize good luck, probably because they look similar to coins. Thus, beans are a part of many New Year’s food traditions. In Italy, lentils are a New Year’s eve good luck food that pairs well with cotechino, a type of food, similar to salami. Cotechino is made from pork meat, the pig being considered a lucky animal in Italy.

There are many variations of cotechino in Italy, but everyone pairs it with lentils on New Year’s eve. Although Cotechino e lenticchie is not a fancy meal, it can be an interesting dish to have on your New Year’s eve dinner table.

Pickled Herring – One of Northern Europe’s Favorite New Year’s Food Traditions

New Year’s Food Traditions - Pickled Herring

Pickled herring is a delicacy in Northern and Eastern Europe and it is a common dish at the New Year’s dinner table. Eating pickled herring is a New Year’s Eve good luck food tradition in Poland, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic Countries. For many centuries, pickled herring was a staple food in Northern Europe. The fish was abundant and could be easily preserved and transported for long distances. The abundance of herrings and the shiny silver color of the fish make this dish a symbol of prosperity and luck.

Oliebollen – Lucky doughnuts from the Netherlands

New Year’s Food Traditions - Oliebollen

Oilebollen (literally “oily spheres”) are a type of sphere-shaped doughnut that is very popular in the Low Countries. A round piece of doughnut is deep fried and emerges as a round, golden and delicious Oilebol. These little doughnuts look just like small coins and are eaten for good luck on New Year’s Eve. They are usually served with powdered sugar.

It is also common to find oilebollen at any festivity in the Netherlands or Belgium. Several variations of oilebollen exist in Italy, France, Slovenia, Serbia and Romania. Oilebollen are very easy to make and can be a great addition to your dessert list. They are perfect for greeting guests and work perfectly fine as starters.

Whiskey and black bun – Scottish delicacies New Year’s Food Traditions - Whiskey

Scottish people love to celebrate the New Year. The New Year’s eve celebrations are called “Hogmanay” and involve a lot of rituals, which, in turn, involve a lot of eating, drinking and merry making. During New Year’s Eve, Scottish people visit family and friends and bring gifts of whiskey and black bun. The ritual is called “first-footing” and the tradition says that if the first person to cross your doorstep is a tall black-haired handsome man, your year will be prosperous and bountiful.

Black bun is a type of fruitcake completely covered by pastry. Bringing black bun as a gift means that the family will not go hungry during the following year. Of course, whiskey is always a favorite gift to give and to receive. There are many good quality whiskies to choose from, just make sure to pick one that fits your host's taste.

Toasting Champagne – The universal New Year’s Eve Tradition!

Everyone likes to toast champagne on New Year’s Eve. As the countdown starts and the old year is nearing its end, all the guests grab a glass and prepare to toast the New Year. Toasting champagne has become so popular that it is now common in almost every culture. Sometimes, sparkling wine will be used instead of champagne, but the effect is the same – the golden color of the drink symbolizes good luck and wealth.

If you want to be original, try a champagne cocktail instead. Champagne is a very versatile drink and pairs well with many alcoholic beverages. Champagne is traditionally served in flutes and cups. The Lobmeyr Champagne Cup set is a great addition to any New Year’s Eve dinner party. A good glass allows the champagne to breathe and fully expand. It also enhances the drink’s texture – champagne looks best served in a noble crystal-clear cup.

New Year’s food traditions are great for exploring other cultures and for making your New Year’s Eve dinner table more colorful and original.