New Year's Food Traditions from Around the World 

From Japan to Spain, here's how food plays into New Year's celebrations around the world

click to enlarge Cotechino, lentils and polenta

Cotechino, lentils and polenta

New Year's Food Traditions From Around the World

Whether you choose to chug a bottle of bubbly or watch a sparkling spud slowly descend from the sky, you'll be joined by revelers around the world ringing in the new year with unique traditions involving food and booze. Here are some New Year's food customs from across the globe.

Spain: 12 Grapes

Spaniards celebrate New Year's by consuming "las doce uvas de la suerte," or the 12 lucky grapes. At the stroke of midnight, as 12 bells toll, revelers have to eat one grape per second—each sweet grape symbolizing a good month, while each sour grape portends an unlucky one. If you finish all 12 grapes by the final bell, you'll have good luck in the new year. The tradition has is also held in Portugal, Cuba and Peru.

Italy: Lentils and Cotechino

In Italy, lentils are a popular New Year's dish due to their coin-like shape, which represents good fortune and prosperity. The lentils are generally paired with slices of spicy pork sausage in a dish dubbed Cotechino con Lenticchie. Across the world, pork is a popular New Year's meal because they symbolize progress, due to the fact that they move forward when rooting for food.

Japan: Osechi-ryori

The Japanese celebrate New Year's by eating osechi-ryori, an assortment of elaborately presented foods packed into lacquered bento-like boxes called jubako. Though the individual dishes vary, some examples include Kuromame, simmered black soybeans that symbolize health, and Tazukuri, dried sardines in a sugary soy sauce that represent an abundant harvest.

Greece: Vasilopita

On New Year's in Greece, families break out a sweet bread called vasilopita that has a lucky coin tucked inside. A piece of cake is sliced for each family member and whoever gets the coin is said to blessed with good luck in the new year and receives some sort of prearranged gift.

The Netherlands: Oliebollen and Appelbeignets

Oliebollen are often sold from street carts and at fairs. The little deep-fried dough balls are sometimes filled with dried fruits like raisins, currants or candied peel and dusted with powdered sugar. Another New Year's treat are Appelbeignets, deep-fried apple rounds dipped in sweet batter and served with cinnamon and sugar.

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