MIKE WAGONER

MIKE WAGONER

Auld Lang Syne is not a doddering old fool on the New Year’s Eve dance floor. It’s the title of a song…a song that nobody knows the words to.

Thanks to writer Brandon Specktor for sharing that juicy tidbit in his recent article contained in Reader’s Digest magazine.

“Auld Lang Syne” is the name of a 1788 Scottish poem by Robert Burns, typically sung and slurred on New Year’s Eve around the world. “The phrase ‘auld lang syne’ literally translates to ‘old long since,’” Specktor said.

“Auld Lang Syne is a piece of the tradition of belting out a tune about: ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?’” Followed by: “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

That’s about all of the song that most folks know or care about. Forget memorizing all five verses…and move on to the “good luck New Year’s food.”

Reader’s Digest has that covered, too.

Food writers Meaghan Cameron and Marissa Laliberte have counted 15 “lucky dishes to bring prosperity and good health to your friends and family.” Eat them on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day…or both.

In the South, a “mess of collard greens” is at the top of the list. “They’re easy to find in the colder months. Greens resemble cash money,” the writers said. (Mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage and similar leafy green vegetables can be used as substitutes where collards are unavailable.)

Next, you need some cowpeas, Carolina field peas or black-eyed peas, symbolic of coins. Combine with rice, onions and bacon for a true southern dish – Hoppin’ John. (Left-over “Hoppin’ John” is called “Skippin’ Jenny.”)

Another traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold.

For the entrée, Cameron and Laliberte suggest pork and/or fish, for good healthy eating. Italians traditionally consume lentils with their New Year’s pork dinner.

Also from the international buffet, select some grapes. “Spaniards pop a grape for each stroke of midnight, with each representing a page of the calendar ahead.” Keep score, the writers advise. “If one grape is bitter, watch out for that month!”

“In a Greek tradition, families toss a pomegranate against their front door when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. The more seeds fall out, the more luck and fertility that household will be blessed with,” said Cameron and Laliberte.

Avoid the mess and “whip up some cranberry pomegranate margaritas instead,” the writers recommend.

“According to German and Eastern European superstition, ringing in the New Year with a heaping plate of sauerkraut means wealth. The more you eat, the bigger your bankroll!” For good measure, German-Americans are known to eat a glazed soft pretzel on New Year’s Day.

In Mexico, the go-to dish of tamales symbolizes familial bonds, so important to the heritage and culture of the Mexican people.

“Fresh mandarin oranges are one of the main symbols of the Chinese New Year, said to bring prosperity,” wrote Cameron and Laliberte. “Having an orange with the stem and leaf attached will bring a long life and fertility.” Making and eating dumplings is another Chinese custom.

In Japan, “toshikoshi soba is the traditional New Year’s food of choice. The length of the soup’s soba is said to symbolize a long life. Part of the tradition is slurping the buckwheat flour noodles. Your luck runs out if you break or chew the noodle.”

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