Illustrations by Lila Volkas
The dawning of 2013 will usher in an interminable, nerve-wracking 365 days for sufferers of Triskaidekaphobia, an intense fear of the number 13. What better way to maximize your odds in this edgy-numbered year than to consume as much luck as possible in the waning hours of 2012? Although four-leaf clovers and rabbits’ feet are not likely to be listed on the menu, there is a smorgasbord of dishes eaten around the world on December 31 believed to guarantee a new year of prosperity, health and good fortune.
SPAIN - Perspicacious Spaniards gobble 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, one with each chime of the clock. If you’ve got a touch of OCD, pre-seed and peel your grapes, then line them up for a quick countdown.
ITALY – In many lands, eating any food that resembles money is thought to assure a year of bounty. Lentils, black-eyed peas and other beans may not be the spitting image of coins but they swell when cooked and thereby represent an increase in wealth. Italians double their luck with lentils and cotechino, spicy pork sausages. Pork carries a positive connotation for a bright future, since pigs nuzzle in a forward direction. Following this logic, back-scooting lobsters or backwards-scratching chickens and turkeys would make for an unlucky dinner on December 31.
GERMANY – In a country that boasts well over a thousand kinds of sausage, it would be surprising if Germans did not partake in pork for New Year's Eve. The pig comes in many guises: schnitzel, roast pork or sausages, with sauerkraut as a classic accompaniment. As a group of friends dig into sauerkraut, they may wish each other as much goodness and money as the shreds of cabbage in this traditional fermented dish. Soups with little round things (lentils, peas, beans or carrots) are also believed to bring wealth.