New Year’s Eve food traditions from around the world

Find a great addition to your dinner party menu, something rooted in multiculturalism or a historical interest.

New Year’s Eve dinner parties have always been one of the best examples of a grand celebration. While the party may be a time for happiness and nostalgia, it puts immense pressure on the hosts, as December is the busiest celebratory month. Here are a couple of good luck meal traditions from around the world to give your dinner party the ‘Oomph’ factor.


In Estonia, the number of meals you have on New Year’s Eve is said to give you the strength of that number of men in the coming year. There are Estonians who eat up to 12 meals to bring in the new year. However, each meal is left unfinished for the spirits of ancestors who visit the house on New Year’s Eve as a sign of respect.


Many countries believe in eating circular food as good luck. Like the Italian’s belief in a lentil meal, Argentinians eat beans. They believe it will bring them more career opportunities.


Austrians serve ‘spanferkel’ (roasted suckling pig) and decorate their dinner tables with little marzipan pigs. Pigs represent progress and prosperity in Austria as well as in Cuba, Germany, Italy Hungary and Portugal.


Japanese people begin each New year slurping down a bowl of buckwheat noodles called toshi-koshi soba. They prepare and eat the noodles without breaking the strings. Noodles in many Asian countries symbolise longevity, therefore the longer the noodles the better.


Many countries dine on fish for the New Year. Fish is chosen because of its coin-like scales and its nature to swim upstream. Poles dine on a specific fish called pickled herring. It is often eaten with a midnight smorgasbord of smoked and pickled fish, pâté, and meatballs. As staple food in the region, it is eaten to bring a good bounty in the new year and avoid starvation.


On a Russian New Year’s Eve, instead of resolutions you can write a wish for the coming year on paper, burn it and add the ashes to the glass of champagne you are toasting at midnight.


On the other hand, if you are looking for something more, do it like the Spaniards do. With each chime of the midnight eat a grape and make a wish. The sweetness or sourness of the grape predicts how the coming months will be.


In Germany, there are plenty of sweets to go around. Treat yourself to a ‘pfannkuchens’ (doughnut). These are usually either filled with jam or liquor, but be careful — one or two are filled with mustard, bringing bad luck for your year.


Talking about sweets, the Swedes serve rice pudding with an almond hidden inside. Similar to this, many traditions also involve a coin inside treats. Whoever finds the almond or coin will receive good fortune.


Pomegranate is one of the best round fruits to be eaten according to the Turks. Their red colour represents the human heart and denotes life and fertility. Their medicinal properties represent health. Lastly, their abundant round seeds represent prosperity. Everything anyone could want for a fresh start.

For ideas of how to celebrate New Year’s Eve here in Brisbane, here are 5 ways to celebrate.