Menu for a lucky New Year

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Now that December has arrived, it is not too early to start planning your Dec. 31 celebration.  This has been quite a tumultuous year, and we all deserve to enter 2017 on a happier note. What if there was a way to usher in some good fortune along with good nutrition before the stroke of midnight?

Whether it is fact or folklore, there are a variety of foods that are believed to be “lucky” and are rumored to improve the odds that the coming year will be a great success. While the traditions vary between cultures, we find some commonality regarding what fortune-rich foods seem to enjoy popularity in different regions around the globe.  Among these, interestingly enough, we find cooked greens! 

Healthy green vegetables, including cabbage, collards, kale and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for one simple reason — their green leaves bear a striking resemblance to folded money, and are therefore considered portents of coming economic fortune. In Denmark, for example, individuals eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. The blending of savory and sweet in this dish might even entice the fussiest of eaters. The Germans tend to favor sauerkraut (cabbage), while in the southern part of our country collard greens are the leafy food of choice. Finding a delicious recipe or two is especially important—it is widely believed that the more greens eaten, the larger one’s fortune next year.

There are also some foods that many cultures believe we should refrain from enjoying on the brink of a new calendar year.

Lobster, for instance, is considered bad luck; these crustaceans move backwards, indicating the potential for setbacks. Chicken dishes are also discouraged on a New Year’s Eve menu; these bird scratch backwards, which may cause regret or dwelling on the past. Yet another folk tale warns against eating any winged fowl, lest one’s good luck should have a means to “fly away.”

If you were planning to celebrate the end of 2016 with nothing more than champagne, think again. You cannot beat the one-two punch of nutrition and prosperity. Host a party, and bring on the greens. Good luck!