New Year’s Day is a time when I always look forward to eating great food.

I would love to celebrate it like the ancient Babylonians, which, by the way, was the first civilization to celebrate New Year’s about 4,000 years ago. They even had the tradition of resolutions, the most popular being the return of farming equipment. They really knew how to throw a party, too. It lasted 11 days.

New Year’s began with the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. You would think the beginning of spring would be a better time with the season of rebirth and the planting of new crops, but Jan. 1 was selected for some reason. The Romans celebrated in March, until Julius Caesar created the Julian calendar and placed it back to Jan. 1.

If we miss the traditional January New Year’s, we can always celebrate the Chinese New Year Feb. 5 and the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah Sept. 29.

It seems universally New Year’s is a time of new beginnings, new dreams for the future and food that brings you luck. Now, how do my wife and I spend New Year’s? I am afraid that is one time of year we really don’t like to go out. We love New Year’s, but we like to have it at home. We will ice down champagne, I’ll make a few snacks and we enjoy each other’s company waiting for the New Year to come in. Mostly we give thanks for all the years we have had together and the years to come. We should always celebrate the New Year coming but give thanks for old years that brought us here.

Here are a few lucky foods from around the world.

USA Southern tradition: Hopping’ John


1 cup dry black-eyed peas

½ pound chopped hog jowls or ham hock

1 large onion chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cooked rice

4 cups water

Directions. Soak peas overnight. Place all ingredients (except rice) in a medium pot and simmer until peas are tender. Add two cups cooked rice.

Italy: Cotechino Con lenticchie (Italian pork-sausage and lentil dish)


1 pound Italian sausage

1 pound onions chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp thyme

7 cups water

1 pound dry lentils

1 clove garlic

1 large carrot sliced


Place ingredients in medium pot and simmer until lentils are tender. Remove bay leaf and drizzle with olive oil.

Spain: 12 grapes are eaten as the clock strikes midnight!

Dutch: Donuts are eaten!Anything in the shape of a circle is considered good luck.

Buttered Bread: New Year’s Day in Ireland is also known as Day of the Buttered Bread; buttered bread is placed outside the front door in hopes that the hungry will not enter the house for a year.

Long Noodles: Means long life in Asian culture, a stir-fry of unbroken noodles is a tradition believed to bring good health and luck in the New Year. Those who can eat at least one long noodle without chewing or breaking it are said to enjoy the longest lives and best luck of all!

I wish you all a safe, healthy New Year filled with wonderful food adventures. I will try to be part of those adventures.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or

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