I'm not aware that New Jersey has a traditional good luck food for New Year's Eve.

The first time I heard of one was about 20 years ago when I met my Italian cousins for the first time. I sent my son over there right after Christmas 2002. Of course, we were nervous having a teenage son abroad alone for the first time. When I called him there was lots of noise, with almost constant fireworks going off in the street as he spoke from my cousin's balcony. He told me there were about to have lentils for a late-night dinner for good luck. Lentils ... really? I don't even think the kid knew what they were, but "when in Rome..."

So, I looked it up and sure enough it's a good luck tradition over there to eat lentils on New Year's Eve. Since they're round and shaped like a coin, they're supposed to symbolize prosperity. Usually served with pork sausage because pigs are also considered lucky.

We're lucky here in this country that prosperity has more to do with hard work and ambition than luck, but I guess that's why my grandparents came here and never carried on the tradition.

We do have some luck food traditions that have been brought here by so many other cultures as well. From Hoppin' John to King Cake in the south, to soft pretzels in the northeast and midwest.

With celebrations being canceled and restaurants ordered to close by 10 p.m., this year by be a good time to start a lucky New Jersey New Year's Eve food tradition in your house.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis's own.


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