New Year 2024: New Year Food Traditions Across The Globe

Believe it or not, a new year is only days away! Though celebrations to greet the new year often look similar across the globe, culinary habits differ quite a bit. For instance, in Iran, New Year or Nowruz is typically celebrated with a spread which features Sabzi Polo Mahi, a rice and fish dish. 

Whereas, certain South East Asian countries make it a point to serve and consume dumplings to mark the new year since they signify prosperity and wealth. If you’re looking for some global inspiration for your New Year party, here’s a brief breakdown of how countries around the world greet the New Year

Japan: Osechi-Ryori

In Japan, the New Year is celebrated with Osechi-Ryori, a traditional meal which is essentially an assortment of a number of colourful, local delicacies, served in bento boxes. This tradition was started in the Heian period. Each component holds symbolic meaning, with items like datemaki (sweet rolled omelette) representing good fortune and kuromame (black soybeans) symbolizing health.

China: Dumplings

Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is marked by a feast featuring dumplings. These small, savoury dollops are believed to resemble ancient Chinese money and are thought to bring prosperity and good luck for the coming year.

South Korea: Tteokguk

In South Korea, Tteokguk, a soup made with sliced rice cakes, is a traditional New Year's dish. Eating Tteokguk is believed to add a year to one's age and bring good fortune for the upcoming year.

Spain: Twelve Grapes

In Spain, it is a tradition to eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, with each grape representing a month of the coming year. This practice is believed to bring good luck and prosperity.

Scotland: Hogmanay Shortbread:

In Scotland, Hogmanay is celebrated with various customs, and shortbread is a popular treat during this time. It is common to gift shortbread as a symbol of good luck and prosperity for the New Year.

Mexico: Rosca de Reyes

In Mexico, the celebration of Día de Reyes (Three Kings' Day) involves the sharing of Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread topped with candied fruits. Hidden within the bread is a small figurine representing baby Jesus, and whoever finds it is tasked with hosting a celebration on Candlemas Day. Besides New Year's it is traditionally consumed 12 days after Christmas.

Brazil: Lentil Soup

Lentils are a popular New Year's dish in quite a few countries like Italy and Brazil because they symbolise prosperity and wealth. It is common to prepare lentil soup with various spices and seasonings to welcome good fortune in the coming year.

Iran: Sabzi Polo Mahi

In Iran, the New Year celebration called Nowruz is marked with Sabzi Polo Mahi, a dish of herbed rice and fish. The meal symbolises renewal, prosperity, and the triumph of good over evil.

South Africa: Malva Pudding

In South Africa, Malva Pudding is a popular dessert served during New Year celebrations. This warm and sticky pudding, often enjoyed with custard or ice cream, symbolizes the sweet moments people hope to experience in the upcoming year.