Sail, Sip and Savor the New Year!

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

December 31st, New Year’s Eve is the time to celebrate with a song, a kiss, a toast,  a special dish, a wish, a cheer. And January 1, New Year’s Day is a time of hope, promise and renewal. Now, as we embark on the New Year 2013, I want to share with you some great global good luck tastes & traditions that people from countries around the world honor when letting go of the old and welcoming in the new.  These various rituals are believed to bring health, happiness, fortune and prosperity. In fact, you can follow them all year long to add that little extra zing . Hey you never know!!

WORLDLY TASTES & TRADITONS

At different tables around the world you will find unique interpretations of dishes that contain certain ingredients to start the New Year off right!  It is all about honey, sugar or fresh fruit for sweetness, lentils for prosperity, greens like cabbage or kale for the color of money, rice or potatoes for sustenance, almonds for good health, seafood or pork (since fish swim and pigs eat moving forward) for an abundant bountiful future and a sip of something special to toast family, friends and happiness. Here’s an inside peek into some international tasty traditions of countries visited by Regent Seven Seas Cruises®.

CARIBBEAN

Happy New Year!! Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!! Bonne Annee!! Feliz Ano Nuevo!!

Throughout the Caribbean, the islanders know how to party and celebrate the new year with good food, music, fireworks and dance. The infused cuisine influenced by the French, Spanish, South American, British and Dutch roots always involves fruits, spices, pork and rice. A roasted suckling pig is often on hand or a pastelon (simmering beef or pork casserole topped with sweet mashed plantains, fresh fish with tropical fruit salsas and lots of rice, beans and lentils. A dessert specialty is arroz con leche  (rice pudding) with candied citrus or pineapple. And of course, rum punch is the drink of choice to toast in the new year and beyond!

GREECE

Kali Xronia!!

Greeks in cities and on islands welcome the new year with a sip of ouzo and a slice of vasilopita, a sweet must have bread made with almonds, cinnamon and lemon zest and containing a baked in coin to be eaten on New Year’s Day. The secret of success in the year ahead goes to the one who receives the slice that has the coin. It is also a day of religious appreciation and renewal as January 1 is St Basil’s Day, the saint who was one of the forefathers of the Greek Orthodox Church.

HONG KONG

Xin Nian Yu Kuai!!

Although the Honkongese celebrate Chinese New Year in January or February each year with a variety of fascinating tastes & traditions, citizens of Hong Kong acknowledge January 1 as New Year’s Day internationally. Crowds gather at The Times Square Shopping Mall in the heart of the city for the countdown and dropping of the shimmering ball at midnight to emulate the ball in New York’s Times Square Firecrackers shot over the harbor are meant to keep evil spirits away. On the food front meals include sweet dumplings with lychee paste, lin gou (sticky rice cakes), cha siu( bbq pork) or pig trotters. Green vegetables like celery, spinach and lettuce symbolize vitality for earning money and oranges and red apples are colors equated with happiness

ITALY  

Buon Natale!!

In every city from Rome to Naples, Florence to Venice, Siena, Sorrento & Capri, Italians  sip sparkling prosecco (sparkling Italian wine), eat sausage or roasted pork, watch fireworks and listen to music in the city or village square. They also exchange gifts in silver or gold as a sign of good fortune in the year to come. The pasta of choice for good luck is lasagna, a tradition started by the Sicilians who believe, the wide noodle represents a straight path heading into the new year and hearty pork sausage guarantees a bountiful time ahead. And dessert is panetone (sweet cake loaf bread) laden with dried fruit and enjoyed with more prosecco.

RUSSIA

S Novim Godom!!

For the Russians at midnight, it is all about singing the national anthem, sipping vodka or champagne and enjoying caviar with a good luck coin in your pocket when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.  A bowl of borscht on New Year’s Day is supposed to keep you healthy all year long and bring you much success.

I wish you a delicious and very HAPPY 2013 wherever you may be!