For families at the Eminence Certified Organic Farm, welcoming the New Year in Hungary is just as exciting as the Christmas holiday season itself. It’s a time to honor customs, traditions and of course, eat a lucky meal. And we can’t think of a luckier meal than Hungarian Lentil Soup on New Year’s Eve (you’ll find the recipe below). It’s our hope that some of our New Year traditions will rub off on you this holiday season – keen to find out more?
Hungarians observe many traditions, and we believe our cultural customs bring us luck and good fortune. We even use traditional food to increase our luck for the New Year. Zoltan Dobos, our Facility and Logistics Manager in Budapest, shares that in his household, “on New Year’s Eve, we eat pork because pigs help us ‘dig’ out good luck.”
New Year’s Eve spreads will vary from household to household, but amongst the pork dishes and Hungarian stew, you’ll almost always find Hungarian Lentil Soup. This is because lentils resemble coins and will bring you wealth and prosperity for the new year.
If you’re itching to inject some wealth into your new year, you’ll have to try the recipe below – and let us know in the comments how you enjoy the dish.
Hungarian New Year’s Lentil Soup
This is the vegetarian version from Hungary Today, but you can definitely add smoked meat or sausage to this recipe. Enjoy eating your way to a year of wealth and success.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large organic onions, cubed
- 1 teaspoon minced organic garlic
- 3 organic carrots, diced
- 2 stalks organic celery, diced
- 3 ½ cups crushed organic tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups organic lentils, soaked, rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 sprig fresh organic parsley, chopped
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large stockpot, saute the onions in oil until they are glossy. Stir in garlic, paprika, celery, carrots and saute for 10 minutes.
- Once the vegetables and spices have sauteed for 10 minutes, stir in tomatoes, chicken stock, lentils, the bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir well, then add the wine and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Slowly reduce the heat and cook for 1 hour on low to medium heat or until the lentils are tender.
- Garnish the soup with parsley and Parmesan (optional) before serving.
Soup may be delicious for New Year’s but make sure you leave room for dessert. Zoltan tells us that his family celebrates the new year with plenty of treats since “whoever eats sweets on New Year’s Day will be sweet all year long.” That’s a good enough reason for us.
Hungarian New Year’s Traditions
When it comes to superstitions, Hungarians don’t leave anything to fate. As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, amongst the clinking champagne glasses and celebratory cuddles, we spend time performing customs and traditions to welcome health, wealth and happiness into our lives. In Zoltan’s household, they open all the doors at midnight on New Year’s Eve so the old year can go out. After all, he reasons, “if you don’t let the old year out, the New Year can’t come in.”
Other traditions deeply rooted in Hungarian culture include:
- Setting off fireworks, “because bright lights and noise keep all kinds of evil away”
- Keeping pockets full and pantries stocked to promote prosperity and abundance. Wallets must also be filled with money on New Year’s Day, “so they will, hopefully, be full all year long.”
There’s no shortage of superstitions in Hungary and, to bolster year-long healthiness, you’re encouraged to wash your face in cold water on New Year’s Day. And if you really want to seal the deal, adding a red apple to the water is believed to increase your chances for good health.
Finally, rest and relaxation is the way to start off the new year in Hungary. Doing laundry and sewing is considered unlucky if carried out on New Year’s Day, so this is the one time of year you won’t catch anyone doing chores!
How will you be celebrating New Year’s this year? Will you be adopting any of our Hungarian traditions? Let us know in the comments!