On New Year’s Day, listen to the animals. If you hear any of them talking, the story goes, it’s a sign of bad luck. If you don’t, you’re set for the year. For extra insurance, you might want to eat some of the foods below for good luck, good health, and good fortune. It can’t hurt.

For long life, say the Japanese, eat shrimp, because its curved back resembles the stature of an elderly person. And slurp some soba noodles, always helpful.

For good luck, say the Spanish, eat one grape at each stroke of midnight for every month of the new year. Give the gift of figs, dates, and honey, said the ancient Romans, because sweets bring good luck. And on New Year’s Day, say the Sicilians, eat lasagne and no other pasta. For dessert, say the Greeks, have a slice of vasilopita (a cake of many thin layers with lots of nuts). Hope for the piece with a coin baked inside.

To bring money, eat something that looks like money. American southerners suggest black-eyed peas (coins) and collard greens (greenbacks). The Italians suggest lentils. The northern Chinese say steamed dumplings look like gold nuggets. And anything pork, say the French, means prosperity.

To fulfill your wishes, eat herring. The Danes eat it boiled, the Polish like it pickled, and the Japanese eat the roe. Make a wish as you swallow.

For good health, the French suggest pancakes.

And for love, eat an orange, say the Italians.

Happy New Year.

See more articles