KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Did you forget to eat your black-eyed peas and greens last New Year’s Eve? What about pickled herring or Glückschwein?

Cultures around the world eat different foods to celebrate the new year with a mind to look forward instead of back. With 2020 entering the record books as a difficult year, many people are hoping to start 2021 off on the right foot … or rather, fork.

Here are some good-luck foods that just might bring health and prosperity in 2021:

Black-eyed peas or Hoppin’ John

Black-eyed peas have been a part of Southern good-luck New Year’s Eve foods for decades. The small, beige peas with black dots are a symbol of coins.

Other countries around the globe eat other peas or lentils for the same reason. Italians eat lentils as a token symbol of Roman coins.

Hoppin’ John, a mix of black-eyed peas, pork and rice, is a variant that blends a pair of good-luck foods.


Pork is seen as a symbol of richness and fat making it a good-luck food. They also play off the theme of moving forward into the new year. When pigs are foraging for food they use their snouts to root forward as opposed to digging backward.

An employee cleans certified Vinalopo grapes at a vineyard processing plant in Novelda, eastern Spain, JAIME REINA/AFP via Getty Images


In a nearly century-old tradition many Spaniards eat 12 Vinalopo grapes as midnight strikes on New Year’s Eve. People believe the doing so brings the promise of good luck to those who manage a grape and wish with each chime.


Glückschwein, or “lucky pig” in German, is another play on the pork theme. In Germany and Austria a gift of a marzipan pigs is usually given between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Most green foods around the world are considered lucky. The color symbolizes luck and money. In the South, collard greens, mustard greens and boiled cabbage are some of the traditional New Year’s Eve greens of choice.


To finish your traditional good-luck Southern meal, don’t forget the cornbread. The golden color of the staple also symbolizes wealth and gold for the new year. It is unknown if your cornbread will be any luckier made with, or without, sugar.

Noodles and rice

Asian cultures turn to noodles and rice on New Year’s Eve and the Chinese New Year. Noodles symbolize a long life and are eaten without breaking them. Meanwhile, rice symbolizes fertility and wealth.

In Japan, Sobra noodles are the traditional go-to. Avoid the short noodles and slurp away.


Many cultures choose fish to start the new year. While the type of fish might change, from herring to carp, they all swim forward. Fish also swim in schools which could also symbolize abundance.

Lobsters on the other hand, can move backward and are, for some, a bringer of bad luck.


Mediterranean countries turn to pomegranate and pomegranate seeds for good luck. The fruit has been associated with abundance and fertility.