New Year's foods bring good fortune

Did Houston grow to be the fourth largest city in America just by good luck, or did our welcoming, sky’s-the-limit attitude have something to do with our success as well?

Well, there are many reasons why we’re so proud to call Houston our home, but greeting the New Year with high hopes and good luck surely never hurt anyone.

And in that spirit, we thought we would end our journey of the past few months through Houstonian celebrations past and present with a look at some foods enjoyed on New Year's eve that diverse cultures believe bring good luck.

Round fruits bring a square deal

On New Year's Eve, many cultures around the world celebrate by satisfying a goal of eating any round fruit. The shape of a round fruit resembles a coin, and the fruit’s sweetness brings the promise of good living. In the Philippines, the custom calls for eating 13 round fruits for New Year’s, considered a lucky number. In Europe and the U.S., the celebration calls for 12 round fruits, representing the months in a year.

In China, the word for “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance,” so fish is considered a food that brings good fortune. The goal, however, is to celebrate by serving the whole fish, with head and tail included, to bring about a good year from beginning to end.

Lentils with sausage (cotechino con lenticchie) is a popular New Year’s dish in Italy because of the vegetable’s color and coin-like shape. Lentils also plump up with water when cooked, suggesting growing prosperity. Hungarians consider lentils good luck as well, and make lentil soup to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Pickled herring will help you gain your bearings

The goal for Germans, Poles, and Scandinavians includes eating herring at the stroke of midnight to bring a year of abundance, as the fish is plentiful throughout their countries. Not to mention that the silver sheen of herring suggests the glint of newly minted coins, again suggesting a favorable fortune in the New Year.

In Japan, China, and other Asian countries, many eat long noodles to celebrate New Year’s Day, as the attenuated pasta signifies longevity. Since the goal is to keep the noodles unbroken, stir-fry is the preferred means of preparation.

In Turkey, pomegranates are thought to bring good luck because of their red color, representing the human heart, bestowing life and fertility. Their medicinal properties also support health, and their profusion of round seeds suggests prosperity.

Meat lovers also have something to savor on New Year’s, as countries like Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Austria, and Hungary favor pork. That’s because pigs never walk backward, and they move their snouts forward over the ground when snuffling out food, so they symbolize progress.

Wishing you peas and prosperity for the New Year

And what of fortunate foods for Houstonians and others living in the Southern States?

Well, many of us favor green leafy veggies like kale and collards because of their color and texture, which look like paper currency. Some say the more you eat, the more prosperous you’ll be.

Meanwhile, other New Year's dishes lean to black-eyed peas, with their penny-like appearance and abundance. And still others gravitate to cornbread, with its gold color. For extra luck, some add additional corn kernels as they bake the bread, symbolizing nuggets of gold.

So eat hearty -- and may the New Year be good to you and your family and friends!

Houston – every year better than the last.

Lunar New Year Houston 2017 truly highlights the international profile of our Global City. Dubbed the largest Asian celebration in the state, it’s one of the only public events worldwide that still celebrates this 2,000-year tradition with real Fireworks exploding amid daring Lions and Dragons! Read more at

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