Foods to Inspire Luck for the New Year


New Year’s Day is a symbol of rebirth and starting over, a chance to make this year better than last. Many people eat foods considered “lucky” on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to improve their chances of success. We explore these lucky foods and why they are considered lucky in this blog to help our gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients poise themselves for a year of success.


Spanish revelers consume twelve grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The tradition started to due to a grape surplus, but stuck and spread to many other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. The idea is that each grape symbolizes each month, and revelers usually try to eat all twelve grapes before the last stroke of midnight.

Cooked Greens

Cooked greens, including cabbage, kale, swiss chard, and collard greens, are traditionally eaten on New Year’s for a simple reason: they resemble folded money. As such, the greens are symbolic of economic fortune. It is thought that the more greens you eat, the larger your financial success will be in the New Year.


Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are traditionally consumed, like greens, because they represent money. The legumes, which are usually round, represent coins and thus financial rewards. In the United States, black eyed peas are the bean of choice due to a legend from the Civil War. The story is that during a battle, one town ran out of food while under attack. The residents then discovered black eyed peas, which then came to be thought of as lucky.


Pork is traditionally served on New Year’s Day or consumed just after midnight as pigs represent progress and wealth. The animal roots itself into the ground before pushing forward, which is seen as forward progress. The richness of the meat also symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Some traditional dishes will combine pork and legumes for an extra dose of luck.


Fish has long been a food consumed at a feast due to its ability to be preserved and transported without refrigeration. Some believe that the Catholic Church’s policy against red meat on religious holidays helped catapult fish into popularity on feast holidays. Also, as fish swim in schools, they represent abundance. Fish, such as cod, herring, sardines, carp, herring roe, and shrimp are all believed to be good choices.


Due to their richness, cakes are traditionally served. Often, ring-shaped or circular cakes are served as a representation of the cyclical nature of life. Some traditions call for hiding a trinket or nut in the dessert. The trinket is thought to bring luck to the recipient.

What to Avoid on New Year’s

While some foods are considered lucky, some are considered unlucky. Lobster, is thought of as unlucky as the animal moves backwards and thus symbolizes setbacks. Similarly, chickens scratch backwards, which is thought to symbolize regret or dwelling in the past. Chicken and other winged fowl are also shied away from on New Year’s day as it is thought good luck could fly away.

The above is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in laparoscopic and bariatric surgery, including gastric sleeve, gastric band, and adjustable lap band surgery. Dr. Shillingford’s Boca Raton, Florida office serves bariatric patients from all over Florida including Delray Beach, Miami, Miami Beach, Palm Beach, Wellington, and Hollywood. Whatever you choose to eat or not eat on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, be mindful of how much you consume. It will not help your luck to start the year off with a belly ache. You can take a cue from the Germans, who traditionally leave a little bit of each food on their plate to symbolize a stocked pantry in the new year.

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