Eating A Pretzel For New Year's Is More Than A Doughy Treat

Each New Year is ushered in with a wealth of traditional practices, although these vary from country to country, and sometimes even from region to region. In the U.S., for example, it's traditional to exchange kisses the moment the clock strikes midnight. The reasons for this are unclear, notes Reader's Digest, since the practice likely originated from earlier traditions, and may go all the way back to Ancient Rome. The New Year's kiss is sometimes attributed to good luck, per USA Today, and at the very least, it's a good guess since that's the reasoning behind so many other New Year's traditions around the world.

The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight to bring good luck for all 12 months of the coming year is a Spanish tradition that is also widely practiced in Latin America and among Hispanic people in the U.S., observes ABC News. Good luck is also the reasoning behind one of the lesser known New Year's traditions: eating pretzels.

The U.S. communities that eat a New Year's pretzel for good luck

Eating a doughy New Year's pretzel for good luck is not only practiced throughout Germany, according to The Spruce Eats, the tradition has also taken root in at least two U.S. communities. As History notes, many residents in Sandusky, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania observe the New Year's pretzel tradition. In Sandusky, the tradition dates back to the early 1900s and was started by the local German-American community. The early specimens weren't just any pretzels, however, Sandusky History explains. German-style bakeries of that era would glaze rather than salt their twisted egg dough treats and the finished product could be up to three feet long.

When you eat your New Year's pretzel is also important, at least from a traditional perspective. Sandusky History points out that the New Year's pretzel is traditionally eaten for breakfast on the morning of January 1. In Pittsburgh, it's often eaten even earlier. Good Food Pittsburgh recommends starting as the clock strikes midnight, and in 2020, noted that there were 15 local bakeries still making their own versions of the New Year's pretzel. Some are made with cinnamon dough, some have icing and are topped with fruits and sprinkles, and Pittsburgh Magazine's recipe calls for frosting and candied cherries. 

So, in addition to being blessed with good luck, you can start the New Year on a sweet note.