Whether you’re the type of person who likes to stay home on New Year’s Eve or send the year out with a bang, chances are you're planning to eat something that night—whether it's fancy hors d'oeuvres or your favorite takeout. Here, some New Year's Eve food and drink ideas from around the world: Try some yourself this New Year's, or better yet: Try them all!
In Japan, you can attend a Forget-the-Year party
One way to let go of any negativity from the past year before prepping for the start of another one is to do as many Japanese do: Throw a "Bonenkai" party. This "Forget-the-Year" celebration brings friends, family members, or co-workers together to drink a ton and put the past behind them. The parties can involve everything from finger foods to multi-course meals with plenty of booze, from sake and wine to Champagne. Then, after the calendar has flipped a page, it's time for the "Shinnenkai," a New Year's Day party meant for getting together again to celebrate and envision the 12 months ahead.
In Spain, eating 12 grapes is a must
It's not unusual to drink a couple of glasses of wine before your Champagne on New Year’s Eve, but in Spain, the tradition is to eat actual grapes: 12 grapes, to be exact. They're typically consumed 12 seconds before the New Year arrives. The idea is that one grape for every month will bring good luck for the next year.
Chileans like their bread for the New Year
If you’re headed to a New Year’s Eve party in Santiago, Chile this year, you might notice an odd item sold on the streets: wheat wrapped up with ribbon and sprigs. The wheat is meant to go with your lentils, an important dish to eat that night to bring good luck and happiness over the coming year. Some hosts even provide the bread for you, as a token of thanks for attending their party. You might also notice single women or men toasting with a glass of Champagne with a gold ring in it. Legend has it that this will bring a marriage proposal within the next 12 months.
Irish smack the wall with bread
So you had a really bad year, eh? It happens to the best of us. But if you want to rid of the negativity as you bring in the new year, take a loaf of bread and smack it against the wall. At least that's what many Irish do just before midnight, with a loaf of Christmas bread in hand. The practice is supposed to chase out the bad spirits, while welcoming the good ones back in.
In Greece, you can dig into a coin-filled Vasilopita cake
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, you’ve probably had a King Cake—and if you were lucky, you might have found the toy baby hidden inside. A similar custom exists in Greece, Eastern Europe and other parts of the world in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian community, and it involves what’s called a Vasilopita cake, complete with a coin tucked inside. On New Year’s Eve, party hosts bake and serve slices to their family or guests, and the oldest person gets to eat it first. Tradition says that whoever finds the coin (it’s wrapped in aluminum foil) will have the best luck of the year. This practice originated with St. Basil, who used to bake coins into bread and give the loaves to the poorest members of his congregation. Curious about the cake itself? It's made of butter, eggs, oranges, cherries, and almonds.
In the Philippines, NYE parties celebrate round foods
A balanced life is well-rounded: never working too hard, spending enough but not too much, staying active but remembering to rest, too. You know the drill, even if you (like us) don't always pull it off. That’s why in the Philippines, the new year presents a new commitment to that well-roundedness, symbolized by the foods people eat on that night. Family and friends get together and eat 12 round fruits to represent each month of the year. Think: watermelon, cantaloupe, clementines, etc. If you can find 12 and eat them, your luck is sealed.
In the South, it's all about cabbage, peas, and collards
Ask any Southern grandmother what a New Year’s eve must is and she’ll likely tell you the following: eat ‘yur cabbage, black-eyed peas, and collard greens, or be damned. While it’s (likely) not as serious as it sounds, each of these dishes signify various wants you might have for the coming year: cabbage and collard greens represent money, black-eyed peas symbolize coins. Some families add in pork since it's rich in fat, meaning you’ll never go hungry.
And this is how much Champagne the world drinks on NYE
December 31 is the busiest day of the entire year for the Champagne industry (no surprise there!), and experts estimate that 360 million glasses of the bubbly are served on New Year’s Eve (no word on how many people are actually drinking all those glasses). As for Champagne bottles, restaurants don't do as robust a business that night as they do in by-the-glass bubbles, probably because people are headed home to drink more on their own (and for less money).
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