The Japanese consume long, thin soba, or buckwheat flour, noodles, the shape of which connotes health and longevity. They are called toshikoshi soba ("passing the year" noodles). In China, uncut long noodles are sucked up during the Lunar New Year (which takes place in February), and you are supposed to avoid breaking the strand when you slurp it in, since it is believed that breaking the strand shortens life.
Spicy Mustard Greens with Asian Noodles by David Dewitt
Gingery Japanese Noodles with Mushrooms and Snow Peas by Nava Atlas
Stir Fried Pork and Broccoli with Egg Noodles by Katie Chin and Leeann Chin
All around the world, fish is part of many New Year's celebrations, especially whole fish with silver scales, which symbolizing wealth and luck. In Japan, shrimp are specifically eaten for longevity, and during the Chinese Lunar New Year the consumption of whole fish is believed to signify a long life.
Fried Shrimp by Hiroko Shimbo
Steamed Fish with Chopped Salted Chilies by Fuchsia Dunlop
Braided Fish Steamed with Ginger and Green Onions by Katie Chin and Leeann Chin
In Spain, 12 grapes are eaten as the clock strikes midnight, one grape for good luck for each month in the year to come. This tradition has spread to many Hispanic countries. Grapes are full of important vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene and loads of anti-oxidants. If eating 12 grapes doesn't do it for you, maybe a Fresh Grape Pie will hit the spot!
Wishing you good health and happiness in the New Year!