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December 27, 2006-January 2, 2007

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International Dateline

By Patricia Lynn Henley

Want good luck in the New Year? Maybe eating just the right food will usher in 12 months of health, happiness and prosperity. It's worth a shot, it could be fun and it might even be delicious.

  • Good-luck customs in the southern United States provide several options. Chowing down on black-eyed peas (considered to look like little coins) on New Year's Eve is believed to bring good fortune. Eating cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach is supposed to bring money in the New Year; including cornbread in the meal also reportedly brings wealth. These are all inexpensive foods--a southern saying is "Eat poor on New Year's, eat fat for the rest of the year."
  • Boiled cod is a must on New Year's Eve, at least that's the story from Denmark.
  • In the Philippines, it's important to have the food on the table at the stroke of midnight for an abundance of food in the coming year.
  • Try eating 12 grapes at midnight. That's from Cuba; the grapes signify the 12 months of the year gone by. And in Spain, the 12 grapes apparently represent lucky years of the past and the hope for more of the same.
  • Both Polish and German traditions call for herring. German folklore requires eating herring exactly at midnight to ensure a lucky New Year; the Poles simply say pickled herring must be your first bite on New Year's Day.
  • Folks in Bosnia and Croatia bring health and wealth by eating sarma, beef wrapped tightly in cabbage.
  • In Japan, where three days of celebrations start on Jan. 1 with everyone having a good rest, auspicious New Year foods include sticky rice pressed into cakes and broiled or put in soup, as well as especially long noodles which must be sucked up and eaten without breaking.
  • The Greeks eat a cake baked with a coin inside; the person who bites into a slice and finds the prize is guaranteed good luck in the coming year.
  • In Holland, the custom on New Year's Day is to eat a doughnutlike fritter called an olie bollen.
  • Happy New Year, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo (Brazilian), Feliz Ano Nov (Portuguese), Scastny Novy Rok (Czechoslavakian), Gullukkig Niuw Jaar (Dutch), Onnellista Uutta Vuotta (Finnish), Eftecheezmaenos o Kaenooryos Hronos (Greek), Niya Saa Moobaarak (Hindu), Blian Nua Fe Mhaise Dhuit (Gaelic), Buon Capodanno (Italian), Szczesliwego Nowego Roku (Polish), S Novim Godom (Russian), Feliz Ano Nuevo (Spanish), Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun (Turkish) and Cung-Chuc Tan-Xuan (Vietnamese).

    And peace to everyone, everywhere.

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