Why Do People Eat Cabbage on New Year’s Day?

Who wouldn't want a prosperous year? This classic New Year's tradition is said to bring good fortune to one lucky cabbage eater.

New Year’s Day always comes with a clever set of traditions—and cooking New Year’s foods for good luck has always been a favored way to celebrate across many cultures. Pork is served as a way to promise “fatty” success in the new year. Pomegranates represent life and fertility. Twelve grapes should be consumed during the last 12 seconds of the year, to ensure 12 months of good luck.

And then, of course, there’s the tradition of the leafy green cabbage on New Year’s, bringing luck and prosperity to whoever finds the hidden dime within the cooked cabbage dish!

Why Do People Eat Cabbage on New Year’s Day?

Cabbage is green, just like something else that people tend to desire on a regular basis. That’s right, you probably guessed it—money.

This eastern European tradition of eating cabbage on New Year’s—either as a dish or as cabbage rolls—is meant to signify luck, particularly on the financial side of things. People who eat cabbage on New Year’s believe that it’ll help them make more money in the year ahead.

While cabbage is the traditional green food eaten for wealth and financial well-being, other leafy green foods can also work as a substitute if you’re not a big fan of cabbage. Tradition states that collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens are also acceptable for this lucky New Year’s Day tradition.

Why Do People Cook a Dime in Their New Year’s Cabbage?

But the tradition doesn’t just stop at leafy green vegetables—adding a dime is also key for this New Year’s cabbage tradition!

As tradition goes, the cook would hide silver in the dish. Prior to 1965, dimes were made with silver, so the use of dimes was an easy way to carry on the tradition. The cook would clean off a dime and mix it in, and the person to scoop it onto their plate would be the one to experience wealth and prosperity for their family in the coming year ahead.

How to Make Cooked Cabbage for New Year’s

Hoping to win a little prosperity yourself? While there are numerous cabbage recipes to choose from, the easiest—and most common—recipe to carry out this New Year’s tradition is fried cabbage.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 clove minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup bacon bits (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Combine the butter and sugar

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Sprinkle in either white or brown sugar, as well as salt and pepper.

Step 2: Add the remaining ingredients

Add cabbage with water and cook until the cabbage is to your liking. Throw in some minced garlic for flavor, if you prefer.

Step 3: Add bacon (optional)

Another traditional way to serve fried cabbage is with bacon! Simply cook bacon bits in the skillet first, then remove the bacon but leave the fat for the cabbage to cook in. Add in some butter, sugar, salt, and pepper, then cook the cabbage and toss the bacon in to finish.

And that’s it! Hopefully, you’ll luck out with a dime on your plate this New Year’s, with the promise of a prosperous year ahead.

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