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12 foods to eat on New Year's for good luck

Looking for luck in 2024? It's time to hit the grocery store.

New year, new luck? Let's hope so.

After the past few years, we want health, wealth and a heaping plate of good luck all year long. If that means gobbling up certain foods on New Year's Day, so be it.

Adrian Miller, the Soul Food Scholar, tells that it's important to celebrate foods across various cultures as we look toward 2024.

"It’s important because one can see the similarities of beliefs across cultures, the traditions are fun, and usually quite delicious," he says. "Also, one can learn a lot about a culture from such beliefs."

Ahead of the new year, Miller shares the meaning behind popular New Years food traditions and where they originated.

Black-eyed peas (Europe)

Black-eyed peas symbolize either good luck or coins in the new year.

"My argument is that it’s a riff off the old 'first footer' tradition," Miller says. "The belief was that the first visitor who should cross your threshold in the new year is a dark-haired person with dark eyes. I see black-eyed peas as a substitute for the dark eyes."

In this recipe, Gail Simmons serves up a hearty stew that's not only delicious, but might just help you make this next year the luckiest ever:

Rice (Asia)

Rice symbolizes prosperity.

"They swell — increase in size — and are numerous,” Miller says.

In the U.S., Hoppin' John, a traditional Southern dish of red peas and rice, is traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It is believed to bring good luck into the new year.

Pork (Europe)

Pork symbolizes good health and luck.

"Because pigs root forward with their snout and feet (or) hooves," Miller says.

This recipe from Dani Spies takes just 15 minutes of prep time and then the pork cooks on its own for several hours, so you can enjoy your New Year's party instead of being stuck in the kitchen:

Cabbage and other leafy greens (Europe)

Cabbage and other leafy greens symbolize prosperity.

"They represent paper currency," Miller explains.

Warm, savory and tangy sweet, this dish from Bryant Terry is everything a side of greens in potlikker should be:

Slow-Braised Mustard Greens

Noodles (Asia)

Noodles symbolize longevity.

"Noodles represent longevity in Asian cultures because they are so long," Miller says.

Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, co-founder of Pili Group and Chef Hui, tells that noodles are paramount for good luck in the new year.

"In our house, we always eat soba at midnight for good luck," he says.

This fiery dish from Candice Kumai is a modern take on soba:

Spicy Soba Noodles

Lentils (Europe)

Lentils symbolize prosperity.

“They swell (or) increase in size, (are) numerous, and the yellow color suggests gold coins,” Miller says.

This recipe from Samah Dada is a plant-based twist (thanks to lentils) on a traditional and iconic pasta dish:

Lentil Bolognese

Fish (Asia)

Fish — especially whole — symbolize luck.

"Fish are lucky, because fish swim forward and represent abundance," Miller says.

This is a super easy but exceptionally flavorful and fragrant preparation of whole fish by Joanne Chang:

Osechi-ryōri (Japan)

Osechi-ryōri, traditional Japanese New Year foods, symbolize good luck.

"There are chefs in Japan who specialize in this," Noguchi tells of the multi-tiered food boxes. "They can make enough money in the new year season that they don't have to do anything else for the rest of the year."

Red-colored foods (Asia)

The color red symbolizes fortune.

"In many Asian cultures, red is auspicious, so dishes are colored that way," Miller says.

Jet Tila achieves the red, lacquered look in his char siu from soy sauce, hoisin sauce and ketchup, but if you want to take it to the next level, add a couple drops of red food coloring:

Dumplings (Asia)

Dumplings, as they resemble gold bars, symbolize wealth, or a large, prosperous family.

Get Ching-He Huang's pork and prawn dumplings recipe — which was handed down to her by her grandmother — here:

Pork and Prawn Dumplings

Grapes (Spain and Latin countries)

"Spain and several Latin countries eat grapes at midnight on New Year’s Day," Miller says. "One grape for each chime of the clock."

In this recipe (perfect for New Year's Eve dinner), Antoni Porowski pairs juicy, bursting sweet grapes with charred red onion, loads of rosemary and crispy, ancho chile-rubbed chicken:

Ozoni (Japan)

Ozoni, a special, miso-based soup enjoyed on New Year's Day in Japan, symbolizes luck.

"It's made with mochi," Noguchi says. "And filled with vegetables that all have meaning."