January 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
I am one of those people who cleaves strongly not only to tradition, but also to superstition. This is what happens when you’re raised by a folklorist – you can’t help it. Sometimes my level of superstition may appear to border on the near-insane. I have a rock I pretty much refuse to go on an airplane without; my pockets are always jingling with pennies; I pick four-leaf clovers but not five-leafers; I wear silver around the time of the equinoxes and solstices; I spit over my shoulder whenever I see a black cat and knock on wood a lot; I won’t kill a spider. But then again, how much of human behavior doesn‘t seem pretty crazy? Superstitions are our little human attempts at making sense of and controlling the uncontrollable world around us, just as much as science and technology are. As long as you’re not hurting yourself or others, I don’t know that a little dose of superstition should be considered a problem. Plus, I have an inkling that it sometimes creates a helpful placebo effect – your talisman or other superstitious action relaxes you enough that you can go with the flow of things, and then those things really do go better.
All this is by way of approaching the subject of our New Year’s Eve dinner. Around the world, all sorts of traditions have come up with foods that they believe are lucky to eat when bringing in the New Year. We did our best to include as many as we possibly could, while still having a remotely reasonable and coordinated menu. Lobster is considered unlucky (because it scuttles backward), so that was out of the question (not too hard). On the other hand, leafy greens, lentils, and other things shaped like coins are considered lucky. So are pig products, because they’re rich. We managed to squeak all of those in. Including leafy greens made into coin shapes! (Pancakes. They do wonders. I’ll share that recipe at some point too, because it was fabulous!) But, one of the favorite lucky charms for many a New Year’s party is a cake shaped like a ring…Cake?! No need to ask me twice!