Eating certain foods on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for luck, prosperity or health is a tradition held around much of the world. In many places, oysters are seen as one of the best foods to eat to help kick off a New Year on the right foot. Here are a few of the many traditions and reasons why oysters are a popular New Year’s food.
Often served right alongside collard greens and black-eyed peas, oysters are a staple of southern cuisine on New Year’s day. A popular bumper sticker in North Carolina touts the phrase “Eat fish, live longer. Ear Oysters, love longer” and many believe having oysters on New Year’s Day will strengthen your love connections for the year ahead. Because of their aphrodisiac qualities, it’s common to see oysters served on New Year’s Day. So much so, that January 1 oyster roasts are often huge community events in the south and are steeped in tradition.
Combining the oysters with black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread set you up for a year of fortune, prosperity, longevity, and love– all in one meal.
In New England, Oyster Stew is a hugely popular holiday meal. We did a deep dive into the history of oyster stew and its holiday traditions here. But, in short, the meal is commonly served through Christmas and New Year. This is due in part to the availability of food during the colonial era, catholic traditions, and Irish customs.
All of these cultures and religions come together to form a new tradition, oyster stew over the holidays– a tradition that has lasted for hundreds of years. Let’s not forget, however, that it’s also freezing cold in New England in the winter and there’s nothing better than a piping-hot bowl of oyster stew to warm the bones.
For the world traveler, it’s hard to forget about the fact that oysters are ubiquitous in New Years' celebrations in France. Pop-up oyster stalls literally litter the city streets leading up to the holiday to make sure everyone is well stocked. The tradition claims that oysters are essential food for feasts, and are combined with champagne. Many French believe that without oysters, there is no feast and the new year can be affected negatively
We wish you a safe and happy New Year. If you’re thinking of adding oysters to your New Year’s feast, make sure to visit our blog for recipes.