Why Some Think It's Bad Luck To Eat Lobster On New Year's Eve

Have you got your New Year's Eve dinner all planned out? If you're still in your hard-partying youth, you may be thinking, "Yeah, Jägerbombs with a champagne chaser!" Meanwhile, older folks (for whom buying alcohol legally is no longer a novelty) will likely have plans that involve actual food. While we're still up for sparkling wine-fueled midnight revelry, we like to precede it with an actual sit-down meal or a nice buffet spread instead of settling for a handful of chips or a pizza that mysteriously arrives after someone drunk-dials Domino's.

As we usher in the New Year, we do so with a whole host of traditions based on superstition, all with the basic theme, "Begin as you mean to go on." To that end, there are certain foods we like to eat in order to achieve sufficient luck to see us through another 12 months. Black-eyed peas, most famously, are eaten to bring wealth (via Farmer's Almanac), while 12 grapes eaten at midnight are meant to bring good luck for each month of the year. Lemon pigs, uhh ... help us start the year with a dose of weird-yet-fun kitschiness.

There are, however, certain foods that should be avoided on New Year's Eve. Garlic and onions, of course, are a no-no if you're hoping for midnight smoochies. Other foods, however — including, oh noooes, lobster! — are thought to bring bad luck.

You don't want to begin the year looking backward

The problem with lobsters, as Farmer's Almanac explains, is the fact that they move backwards, so eating them as the year begins is not something you want to do lest you, too, find yourself experiencing retrograde motion. Classroom notes that this superstition regarding lobster is prevalent in central and Eastern Europe. Nyonya Cooking indicates that this belief is also common in China so this crustacean is unwelcome at Lunar New Year celebrations.

This prohibition against lobster for New Year's feasting extends to certain other types of seafood as well. Atlas Cruises and Tours notes that crab and shrimp are also considered unlucky due to their tendency to move sideways — apparently, when entering into a new year, straight ahead is the only way to go. You're also going to want to avoid "bottom feeder" fish such as catfish or halibut, lest you, too, find yourself scrounging for scraps before the year is through. 

Fish that swim forward and stay closer to the surface, however, are perfectly safe, so go ahead and enjoy that salmon! As a matter of fact, Country Living notes that since salmon travel in schools, they are thought to bring prosperity and are considered to be an extra-lucky (as well as heart-healthy!) food.