By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
International tastes and traditions flourish on New Year’s Day to celebrate hope, promise and renewal. Rituals abound to let go of the old and welcome the new. Flavors and flair from special dishes and drinks to heartwarming toasts, songs and festivities are believed to bring happiness, health, fortune and prosperity to those that honor them. And what better way to see the world this next year than by sailing on Regent Seven Seas Cruises where the culture and cuisine of diverse countries and ports beckon. I wish you delicious travels and all of the best in 2014. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
SAIL: Any port Regent Seven Seas Cruises sails to in 2014.
SIP: Champagne, your favorite cocktail or a local concoction. Toast to happy sailings and memories with family and friends!
SAVOR: Traditional tastes of whichever port you are visiting. Enjoy!
Fun Facts about New Years:
Who established January 1 as the start of the New Year?
Julius Caesar did so when he created the Julian calendar.
Certain ingredients have unique interpretations to start a new year off right!
What elements are found at New Year’s feasts and tables?
Most cultures believe foods and fortune go hand in hand so what one eats on New Years Eve or New Years Day could affect their luck and circumstances of the coming year. What varies is how different countries’ kitchens prepare these delicacies. It is all about honey, sugar or fresh fruit for sweetness, beans, lentils or black-eyed peas for prosperity, greens like cabbage, kale or spinach for the color of money, rice or potatoes for sustenance, almonds for good health and seafood or pork (since fish swim and pigs eat moving forward) for an abundant bountiful future. And be sure to leave a little on your plate at the end of the meal to guarantee food all year round!
Are there any foods that should not be eaten to celebrate New Years?
Believe it or not, lobster is considered unlucky because it moves backwards which could represent setbacks in the year to come. Chicken or any other winged bird is avoided because it means good luck could fly away.
What about rings, coins and circular cakes?
Symbolizing coming full circle, anything given or received that is round like a ring, a coin or a cake -even a coin hidden in a cake-is considered a good luck charm.
What are the most recognized emblems of New Year’s Eve worldwide?
Fireworks and the New Year’s Eve Ball in New York City’s Times Square
What’s with the noise and fireworks at midnight?
This tradition originated in ancient times when noise and fire were believed to keep evil spirits away and encourage good luck. Today, most cultures welcome New Years with noisemakers, horn honking, tolling of bells, yelps, cheers and music. They all work!!
What does the traditional New Year’s song Auld Lang Syne mean?
Translated from Scottish, it means “old long ago” and was written by Robert Burns in the 1700’s to remember his old acquaintances. The chorus says: “For days long ago my dear, for days long ago, we’ll drink a cup of kindness yet for days long ago!”
Which city hosts the first major New Year’s Eve celebration each year?
Who established the tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions?
Thank the Babylonians for creating the notion based on returning borrowed farm equipment and promising to do better in the year to come.
What is one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions?
People want to lose weight. But I promise you there are lots of ways to enjoy the cuisine aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises and at the ports you sail to without gaining a pound!!
Plan ahead! In what ports will Regent Sevens Cruises ships be on New Years Eve 2014 or New Year’s Day 2015?
Sail: Port Vila, Vanuatu
Sip: Kava, a local herb drink blended with or followed by a sip of tropical fruit juice
Savor: Lap Lap is Vanuatu’s national dish of Manioc/Cassava (sweet potato) with shredded cabbage and seafood or pork wrapped in taro or banana leaves and roasted in an Umu Stone Oven.
Sail: Philipsburg, St Maarten
Sip: Le Planteur (Planters Punch) made from Caribbean rum and tropical fruits including the island’s famous guava berries. They also make a renowned guava berry liqueur.
Savor: Callaloo Soup (Kale & Spinach Soup with Pork), BBQ Spareribs or Codfish fritters with a Johnny Cake (bread biscuit) and Coconut Sugar Cake for dessert.
Sail: Zanzibar, Tanzania
Sip: Swahili Coffee or a Tangawizi (Ginger Beer)
Savor: Seafood Pilau (a coconut milk curry served over spiced rice) using African spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Cassava (sweet potatoes) is a popular side dish sweetened with honey and spice cake for dessert with tropical fruits and honey.
Mara Papatheodorou is a Master Foodie, a Tastes & Traditions Expert and a nationally established entertaining specialist. She has interpreted the cuisine and experienced the culture of over 65 countries worldwide. As an 11 year Contributing Editor at BON APPETIT Magazine, Mara scouted and produced the Entertaining with Style section that highlighted how real people entertain around the country and the world and was editor of their international editions. She works as a consultant with food companies developing recipes, menus and promotional campaigns.
Mara is the Tastes & Traditions Expert for Regent Seven Seas Cruises where she lectures regularly about the history of cuisine and culture and what to sip and savor in various ports. Mara will sail on Seven Seas Voyager from Australia to New Zealand in January 2014 and on Seven Seas from New England to Canada in October 2014. You can read more about her at www.marapapa.com