Growing up in a German family, I’m no stranger to a pork and sauerkraut dinner on New Year’s Day. When I was a kid, I remember asking Mom why we always had pork and sauerkraut (something I will not eat) the first day of the year. She said it’s supposed to bring us good luck in the new year. Who’s going to argue with that?

As I got older, I wanted to know more about this tradition. I found that the reason we eat pork on New Year’s Day is that pigs root forward. Of course, we all want to move forward in the new year. On the other hand, you shouldn’t eat beef on New Year’s Day because cows stand still. You don’t want to stay where you are in life. If you eat chicken or turkey, you could go backward in life because those animals scratch backward. Some fish are o.k. to eat on New Year’s Day because they swim forward, but you should stay away from crab and lobster because they move sideways and backward.

Eat greens to ensure good fortune. Greens resemble folded money. You could choose leafy greens like kale and collard greens or boiled cabbage or sauerkraut. There’s the sauerkraut to my German New Year’s dish. I’ve even heard that eating peas would be acceptable. Thank goodness, because that’s the only green vegetable I like.

In the south, your new year’s table would probably include black-eyed peas, a sign of prosperity. Eating noodles on New Year’s Day in Asian countries are thought to lengthen your life. Make sure you don’t break the noodle.

Pop the cork on a bottle of champagne because bubbles are considered good luck.

For dessert, serve ring-shaped treats like cakes or doughnuts. Those sweets will bring a full circle of luck.

Make sure you go to the grocery store before the first of the year, because having your cupboards stocked guarantees they’ll stay like that all year.

I’m off to the grocery store to buy pork, peas, champagne, and doughnuts. Happy New Year!

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