Alone, the peas represent pennies, but when served with greens (representing dollars) and cornbread (representing gold), the trio is said to bring a bounty of wealth into the New Year.
Enjoying a pork dish on New Year’s Eve (or New Year's Day) is said to bring progress, because pigs are always moving forward. It’s a tradition held by many Western cultures, including the Pennsylvania Dutch and Germans, who pair pork with sauerkraut.
In Japan, Toshikoshi soba noodles represent a long life and longevity. The length of the soba noodles symbolizes a long life, while the buckwheat in the flour brings resiliency into the New Year.
In Greece, there's a tradition where pomegranates are smashed against the front door to bring good health and happiness to the home. Throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, pomegranates are a sign of fertility and abundance.
Around the world, enjoying ring-shaped cakes, donuts and other pastries for New Year’s Eve symbolizes the year coming full circle.
Because of its green color, cabbage is associated with luck and fortune. So for many Eastern Europeans, Germans and the Pennsylvania Dutch, eating sauerkraut is said to bring good luck and wealth.
Throughout Norway and Denmark, the Kransekage is the centerpiece of the New Year’s Eve dinner table. Paired with champagne, this wreath cake tower is constructed of marzipan and topped with icing, chocolate and sometimes nuts.
Making tamales is a communal process, bringing together family and friends to each take charge of one aspect of the dish. Tamales are also made in large quantities and shared with loved ones, making it a common meal to enjoy for the holidays.
Champagne may be fancy, but the effervescence and tartness of it pairs perfectly with oily, fried foods, including the oliebollen, translating to "oil balls," in the Netherlands.
There are several ways to take part in this New Year’s tradition, but for the most part, families display a fruit basket bearing 12 fruits on the dining table, and at midnight everyone either eats 12 grapes or takes one bite out of the 12 different fruits.