6 Positive New Year’s Resolutions for 2024

New Year’s resolutions have long been a way to take stock of what’s truly important in our lives, allowing us to pause and reflect on the year behind us as well as plan for the year ahead

I want to make a New Year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.

—Susan Sontag

For many people, New Year’s Day is a time to set a goal or resolution for the coming year. But for writer, filmmaker, and activist Susan Sontag, a prayer was a more fitting mantra for January 1. This poignant quote, published in As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, a collection of Sontag’s journals and diaries written between 1964 and 1980, captures a sense of yearning for courage to face the unknown. It’s an honest and vulnerable feeling anyone can relate to seeking the bravery and strength to press on.

It’s officially 2024! 

2024 is here © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As each New Year arrives, many of us find ourselves swept up in the excitement of a fresh start. But the potential can sometimes turn to pressure as we set grand (and often unrealistic) New Year’s resolutions. While detailing specific goals—like vowing to get healthy, cutting back on TV or social media time, and finally pursuing that big dream you’ve had—works for many, others may benefit from a different approach.

Marriage and family therapist Paula Delehanty recommends framing resolutions as practices instead of restrictions. The resolution could be, “I’m going to practice smiling more”. The emphasis is not on how can I improve myself but rather on how can I add to my happiness.

I’ve selected six science-backed practices that can help add to your happiness this year—and every year. Some you may already have on your radar, like giving back, giving thanks, and nurturing your relationships but I also suggest adding camping and hiking to your list.

Horse back riding in Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Give back

The Greek storyteller Aesop once wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”—and a new study is proof. The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, shows that small kind gestures can have a significant impact on recipients even if givers don’t typically realize it.  

Researchers conducted a series of experiments involving different situations and participants. In each they studied how people perceived various small acts of kindness such as offering someone a ride home, baking them cookies, or paying for a cup of coffee. They consistently found those on the receiving end of a kind gesture appreciated it more than the giver had anticipated. 

This one is a win-win for all involved. Volunteering has been linked to a longer lifespan, increased happiness, and even lower blood pressure. And research has shown that donating money activates the pleasure centers in the brain.

Canoeing at Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Nurture your relationships

In 1938, scientists began tracking Harvard University sophomores during the Great Depression to understand what makes for a long and happy life. Almost 80 years later, in 2017, they had their answer: “Our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” study author Dr. Robert Waldinger said at the time.

And relationships aren’t limited to only friends and family. We form them with campground staff and grocery store workers as well as with animals and the environment. It’s about connection and how genuinely we connect. 

3. Give thanks

Each day, pause and take stock of your good fortune. Regularly practicing gratitude has been linked to greater social connectedness, improved physical health, and decreased stress, according to an expert in the science of gratitude at the USC Marshall School of Business. To reap the benefits of regular gratitude 13 tips are offered including keeping a gratitude journal and finding a gratitude rock.

Hiking Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Turn up the tunes 

How’s that for a resolution you can keep? Science has shown that music can both positively affect our well-being and connect us to others. Neurological researchers have found that listening to music triggers the release of several neurochemicals that play a role in brain function and mental health.

Board certified music therapist Elisha Ellis Madsen suggests creating playlists to promote and encourage specific behaviors. For example, a morning playlist “that sets the tone for the day with positive and uplifting tunes,” and another to help you relax you as you prepare for bed. 

She also recommends singing. The act “reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and releases endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine (feel-good hormones).”

A road trip wouldn’t be a road trip without a good old sing-along. Whilst on the road, regardless of how you sound, singing at the top of your lungs is just de rigueur it’s road trip law!

Biking the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Hiking and biking

Exercise is great for personal health. It’s no secret that physical movement benefits the body and the mind: Exercise triggers a release of endorphins that can help alleviate some effects of anxiety and depression. Health Guide reports that physical exercise can also boost your mood, improve your sleep, and help you deal with depression, anxiety, stress, and more.

Trading in your car for a bicycle or pair of walking shoes is a simple way to increase the amount of exercise you get. Bicyclists are less prone to dying early than those individuals who do not ride, at all. At least one study found that spending one hour a day on a bike can reduce your risk of death by 18 percent. Adding an extra half an hour to your routine can drop your risk of death by nearly 28 percent.

What about walking? Simply choosing to add in some extra steps during your day can also lower your risk of death. One study found that walking can reduce the risk of death by 39 percent.

Camping in Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Camping

Spending time outdoors isn’t just a good way to have fun—it’s good for you. Studies show there are real health benefits to heading outdoors for an adventure. Experience the healing power of nature while camping.

After just 20 minutes connected to nature, people can experience a drop in stress hormones.

Scientists have found that when you wake up with the sun rising and go to bed when the sun goes down, your body can reset to your natural sleep cycle- providing you with your exact sleep needs. 

Time in nature can increase vitality, boost your mood and increase your overall well-being.

Spending time with friends and family without the daily distractions can lead to a renewed closeness and appreciation for your loved ones.

Along with setting up your campsite, hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and canoeing are so much fun you won’t even realize you are exercising.

Worth Pondering…

Whether you like them or not, New Year’s resolutions are great to create a positive change in your life.

—Darius Foroux

The FUNdamentals of Hiking for Seniors

Don’t just sit around the campsite! Hiking for seniors is more than doable for everyone. Just follow the 10 FUNdamentals.

Notice I’m posting this on the first day of the New Year for a reason.

Have you heard of First Day Hikes?

First Day Hikes is part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes are organized in all 50 states. Children and adults all across America participate in First Day Hikes getting their hearts pumping and enjoying the beauty of a state park. Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country.

As we visit with those we meet across the country in campgrounds, rallies, and camping meetups, we are amazed at how many RVers—especially seniors—are not hikers. And we think the first day of the year is a good time to start.

Some think it’s too challenging, too strenuous, needs too much-specialized equipment, and not enjoyable.

But, they are wrong.

Unless you have a serious underlying health issue, hiking for seniors is for everyone—no matter your age, experience, fitness level, or gear.

Hiking will so enhance your enjoyment of the RV Lifestyle, nature, the geographic area you are visiting, and your relationship with your camping partner that you will be instantly hooked.

So let’s break it down a bit and talk about what you need gear-wise, how to get started, and what advice you should follow.

But, make no mistake hiking is indeed for everyone at every age.

Hiking Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. What is different about hiking for seniors?

Hiking is for everyone.

It’s just walking and exploring outdoors. That’s the simplest definition I can offer.

There’s no set speed you have to hike, no distance required to be counted as a hike, and you don’t have to dress a certain way.

2. How is the best way to start hiking for seniors?

Begin by taking walks around the campground or RV park. Then explore further afield.

Get proper hiking footwear. You don’t need huge, expensive, and heavy boots. Today’s hiking boots are as comfortable as shoes. Wear them on your neighborhood walks, or around the campground when you are camping.

Then start to venture out on trails.

Hiking to Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Best hiking for seniors gear

There is some basic gear that will make your hike more enjoyable like that good pair of hiking boots.

You’ll want a hat to keep the sun from frying your brains (just kidding), a day pack, a water bottle, comfortable clothes, and maybe some hiking poles for extra stability on uneven ground.

A compass is also a good thing to carry with you. Many cell phones have them built-in as apps and that is nice. But there may not be cell coverage in the area you are hiking or your battery may run out of juice. So get, learn how to use it, and bring a compass along on your hikes.

And if you are hiking in bear country, every person in your hiking party should carry bear spray.

Want an RV resource and information on hiking in bear country?

Hiking Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. How far should you hike?

If you are a total newbie and in reasonably good shape and can easily handle those neighborhood walkabouts I talked about earlier, a good wilderness hike to begin with is two two-mile round trip if the terrain is rough and hilly, maybe even less.

Eventually, a moderate distance for most beginners is three to four miles out and back.

Hiking is not speed walking. I consider it a nature stroll. You want to take your time. Look around. Take a lot of photos. Observe God’s creation in all its glory. Learn things. Breathe deeply. Listen.

Hiking Appalachian Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Use a map

If you are in a wilderness area, you really want to have a map that clearly shows your route.

At most state parks and national parks, hiking trails are marked in brochures and printed maps available from the ranger station.

There are lots of books available for popular areas listing the different trails. The alltrails.com app is a must-have for finding great hikes in the various locations you visit.

You can even Google something like “best hikes near me” and get lots of suggestions.

But the whole point of a map is to know where you are going and how to get back plus a general understanding of landmarks, the terrain, and what you will be seeing.

Hiking Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Tell someone where you are going

In case of an emergency, you want someone to know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Consider sending a text or an email to a friend or relative.

You can say something like: “Greetings from Arches. Wish you were with us! We are going to Double O Arch in the Devils Garden section. It’s only a little over four miles round trip and has some beautiful scenery. I just wanted to let you know! We should be back by 4 pm. I’ll send you a photo when we return.”

By the way, if you do visit Arches, Double O Arch is a great hike. It’s 4.1 miles roundtrip but because you spend the first part climbing it’s officially classified as moderate in difficulty.

Double O Arch is the second largest arch within the Devils Garden area—after Landscape Arch of course. As the name implies, there are two arches here, one large, with a span of 71 feet, stacked atop a much smaller arch with a 21-foot span. Both are part of the same sandstone fin. Double O Arch is located at the far end of the Devils Garden Primitive Loop, 1.93 miles past the Devils Garden trailhead and parking lot at the north end of the Arches Entrance Road. Past Landscape, the trail becomes much more rugged and challenging.

Something else to do: Leave a note in the vehicle you used to drive to the trailhead or back in the RV if you set off from camp. Jot down the date and time, where you are going, the route or trail, and when you expect to be back.

7. Carry a day pack

For short hikes, a day pack is all you need.

You should bring a cell phone with you. Naturally, it should be fully charged. There are inexpensive cases and solar chargers that easily fit in a small pack. And even if cell coverage in the wilderness you are hiking is spotty, the phone is still useful. You can download and store maps on it, use the flashlight, and take photos.

Also, carry a small, dedicated flashlight in your day pack.

Other items we bring include rain ponchos, basic first aid kit, whistle for signaling, water bottle, insect repellant, and sunscreen.

For short hikes, you very well may not need all that. But being prepared just in case always makes good sense.

Be ware of the cholla! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Know the weather

Before setting out on any hike, be aware of the predicted weather conditions you are likely to encounter.

Excess heat and humidity, predicted storms, flash flood conditions, wind, and wildfire potentials are all factors you need to be aware of and take into consideration as you plan your hike.

If it’s expected to be hot, get an early start. Know what time sunset is and give yourself plenty of time to get back before dark.

9. Stick to the trail

The leading reason why hikers get lost is that they decide to go off-trail. So don’t. Besides easily getting disoriented, hiking off-trail damages the landscape.

Hidden obstacles off-trail can trip you up and falls are the leading cause of injuries to hikers. Besides, the trails are there for a reason. They are the best route through the area and almost always offer the best views. So stay on them.

10. Leave no trace

As the signs say, leave nothing but footprints.

But don’t take anything out with you, either—except your trash and photos.

Most public lands prohibit picking wildflowers or removing trees and shrubs.

Lately, we’ve seen notices on some of our hikes asking people not to make rock piles.

The idea is to keep public lands as wild and undisturbed as possible.

There’s a Leave No Trace movement that lists a code of conduct that responsible campers and hikers should follow.

Where will your next hike be?

Worth Pondering…

To me, old age is always ten years older than I am.

—John Burroughs

Quotes to Inspire Your New Year’s Resolution

Let these New Year resolution quotes give you thoughts on setting resolutions. May these words of wisdom inspire you to make the coming year the best year yet!

Don’t make resolutions without an action plan. The secret to success is right in your hands.

— J. Allen Shaw

The New Year is a perfect time to make a fresh start. For many people, that means resolving to make new habits and goals in their personal or professional lives. For others, taking care of some long-neglected chores or projects is a great opportunity. Regardless of which camp you fall in, it’s hard not to feel hopeful on New Year’s Eve—a time of celebration and so much promise.

As December comes to a close, we take time to reflect on the past year and take stock of what’s truly important as we head into the next. Maybe we’re looking for the motivation to finally get started on a new project or career. Or hoping to take better care of ourselves in the months ahead. Perhaps we’re looking for a little more excitement in life and need a reminder to keep the door of possibility open. Or, just maybe, we’re content and secure right where we are and hopeful for another happy year.

As we revel in the inspiring nature of the season, read through this selection of quotes to remind yourself that anything is possible. Happy New Year!

Painted Desert, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Begin as you mean to go on.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

—Jane Goodall

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

—Plato

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.
—Octavia E. Butler

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented.
—Maya Angelou

If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one!
—Dolly Parton

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.
—Brad Paisley

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
—Mary Oliver

A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it.

—Walt Disney

Birding in South Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

—Mary Anne Radmacher

I want to make a New Year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.

—Susan Sontag

You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.
—Hillary DePiano

Without the intense touch of nature, you can never fully freshen yourself! Go for a camping and there both your weary mind and your exhausted body will rise like a morning sun.

—Mehmet Murat Ildan

Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.

—Michael Josephson

World’s Largest Roadrunner, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The new year is the glittering light to brighten the dream-lined pathway of future.

—Munia Khan

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.

—Nido Qubein

Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.

—Robin Sharma

I hope you realize that every day is a fresh start for you. That every sunrise is a new chapter in your life waiting to be written.

—Juansen Dizon

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

—Edith Lovejoy Pierce

You do not find the happy life. You make it.

—Camilla Eyring Kimball

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

—Thomas Jefferson

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

—Henry David Thoraeu

15 Foods to Eat for Good Luck in the New Year

Noodles for longevity, cornbread for gold, and fish for success

The holiday season is full of long-standing traditions but our favorites always tend to center around eating. No matter where you’re from many people believe what you do on January 1 can set the tone for the entire year to come.

And there is no better way to ring in the New Year than by eating! While you could overload on chips and dip with champagne, why not eat foods that will supposedly bestow your life with prosperity in the New Year? There are New Year’s resolutions to be made and goals to achieve—we need all the luck we can get once 2024 rolls around.

Luckily (pun intended) there is a sundry of foods that when eaten on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day are said to call forth good fortune in the coming 12 months.

Look to these good luck foods when the clock strikes midnight for good fortune in the year to come.

People from around the world will eat traditional foods as the clock strikes midnight in hopes of bringing a little more luck and good fortune into their lives. As you reflect on the past year and make those resolutions, try these edible traditions from around the world to ring in your luckiest (and tastiest) year yet.

Pomegranates, a good luck food © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Pomegranates

Since seeds are associated with fertility and life, eating pomegranates may just be the key to a lively new year. In Greek culture, a pomegranate is placed outside the home and smashed on New Year’s Day. The more seeds that scatter during the initial smash, the luckier the year that lies ahead will be. In Turkish culture, pomegranate seeds are also celebrated for fertility so if you’re attempting to start or grow a family you might want to stock up.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t add extra fruit to your sparkling drink when you toast at midnight or turn it into a delicious treat—like pomegranate pavlova with pistachios and honey—for your guests.

2. Black-eyed peas

If you’re cooking a New Year’s dinner in the South, chances are you’re serving black-eyed peas prepared with pork, celery, and onion. Also known as Hoppin’ John, the traditional dish has been consumed for luck for more than 1,500 years (they got their start as part of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah). These little legumes also pack important nutrients, like fiber and vitamin A, so you can stick to your healthy resolutions, too.

Black-eyed peas simmered into a stew with ham hock and collard greens are known as Hoppin’ John or Carolina Peas and Rice. It’s a traditional meal in the South eaten on New Year’s Day. There are a couple of myths surrounding the luck associated with black-eyed peas. Some say the shape of black-eyed peas which are actually beans represent coins and therefore encourage wealth. Others trace the humble black eyed pea back to Civil War era where the beans are said to have prevented families from starvation. Whatever the reason, black-eyed peas continue to remain a traditional lucky food to have on January 1 throughout much of the South.

3. Leafy greens

Dark leafy greens (collard greens, spinach, kale, etc.) resemble money (plus they are good for you).

Did you know that downing a kale salad is good for more than just your health? Leafy greens, like kale, collard greens, spinach, and romaine lettuce are symbolic of wealth. They’re the same color and crispness of a fresh dollar bill which is why it’s considered lucky to eat leafy greens when seeking monetary gains in the New Year. As the Southern saying goes “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.”

4. Cornbread

Any excuse to eat cornbread is OK in my book. In many of the southern states cornbread is considered lucky due to its golden brown color which is said to bring gold and wealth in the upcoming year. So slather on some butter, dig in, and maybe pair it with a bowl of Hoppin’ John for extra luck.

5. Noodles

The longer the noodle, the longer the life! At least, that’s what this ancient superstition says. Traditionally slurped up for Chinese New Year, soba noodles are extra-long and symbolize longevity. Just be careful to not break the noodles on their way from bowl to mouth!

Different types of noodles are consumed across Asia in the New Year and symbolize longevity. In Japan, toshikoshi soba, is a meal composed of buckwheat noodles in a steaming broth of daishi, soy sauce, and mirin. is a common meal to consume on New Year’s Eve; a healthy and simple way to start the New Year off fresh. In Chinese culture, yi mein noodles, the satisfyingly chewy and brightly yellow egg noodles are stir-fried and said to encourage long life. Whatever type of noodles you fancy, slurp them up and you may not be only full but also blessed with a long and fulfilling life.

6. Dumplings

Dumplings are an important part of New Year’s traditions around the world from Chinese 餃子 (jiao zi) to Russian pelmeni. They’re shaped like little money pouches or the coins themselves and are meant to represent prosperity, wealth, and health.

The homemade ones are truly a labor of love so gather some family members and have everyone help with assembly. And don’t worry about getting them perfect-looking—even the wonkiest of the bunch are sure to bring health and wealth in the New Year.

Grapes, a good luck food © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Grapes

In Spain and Mexico, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight representing the 12 months within a calendar year. It is believed that the luck you’ll possess each month is dependent on the sweetness of the grapes; if you come across any tart grapes then make sure to prepare yourself for a bumpy month that corresponds with the sour grape you consumed.

8. Ring-shaped cakes

It’s always a good time for cake—especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion like ringing in the New Year. A round, ring-shaped cake in particular is known to represent the full circle of life.

Ring-shaped foods such as the tasty bundt cake are said to be symbolic of the year coming full circle. Try a crowd-pleasing Bundt cake in pumpkin spice or lemon-lime flavor or go for something unexpected like a round-shaped monkey bread.

I will joyously consume cake for any occasion so this whole luck thing just feels like a bonus. Due to their shape (they somewhat resemble coins), they are also thought to bring forth wealth in the New Year. A wide interpretation of this one is acceptable. Even doughnuts, because why not?

In the Netherlands, eating fried doughnut-like pastries called oliebollen is said to be lucky. They usually have a good dusting of powdered sugar on top.

In Greek culture, friends and family gather around for a vasilopita, a zesty orange cake that often has a coin baked inside. Whoever receives the slice with the coin in it gets extra luck for the New Year and usually a gift or prize. So bust out your cake pan and bake yourself some luck for 2022.

Pork, a good luck food © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Pork and sauerkraut

If you’re looking to personally advance in the New Year, pork may be a good option for you. Like many other cultures, the Pennsylvania Dutch believes eating pork on New Year’s Day brings good luck because pigs are animals that root forward as they sniff out and eat food and therefore emblematic of progress in the year. After all, we want to move forward, not backward, in the New Year. Sauerkraut is made from cabbage—a symbol of money because it’s leafy and green.

The tradition spans across continents from roasted lechon in the Philippines to marzipan pigs in Northern Europe to pork and sauerkraut dishes served in the U.S. As noted in The Morning Call, eating pork is “part superstition and part tradition like a Pennsylvania Dutch-style insurance policy for the new year.” The fattiness of pork is also related to luxury and wealth so fry up some bacon to start the New Year.

Fish, a good luck food © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Fish

If you’re looking for an alternative protein to eat when ringing in the New Year then try fish. It’s alleged that the shimmery scales look like coins and in some Eastern European cultures they are saved and placed in a wallet in hopes of acquiring more wealth. Fish also represent abundance because they swim in large schools. Across myriad cultures fish are consumed in hopes of a year full of success. Whatever the preparation, it can’t hurt to eat an extra serving or two.

In countries like Norway, Germany, Poland, Finland, and Sweden, herring is bountiful thanks to its proximity to the Baltic Sea. So on New Year’s, right at midnight, herring is served to encourage bounty and prosperity in the coming year. The fish’s silver scales are also said to resemble coins, which is a good sign of future fortune.

11. Buttered Bread

In Ireland, it’s said that there are several traditions involving bread on New Year’s, so many that January 1 is known to some as the Day Of Buttered Bread. One entails banging bread against a door frame to chase away bad luck while another invites good luck in by sharing the baking bounty with friends, loved ones, and neighbors.

Which one we’ll be going with?—Irish soda bread with chocolate chips, sourdough, or brioche topped with homemade garlic butter, Tuscan butter, or maple butter.

Oranges, a good luck food © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Oranges and tangerines

Oranges and tangerines are typically passed out during Lunar New Year to call forth prosperity so it’s only natural that these citrus fruits have made their way to our Gregorian calendar celebrations as well. The bright color evokes joy and the Chinese word for a mandarin orange, kam, is a homonym for the word gold thus making the mandarin orange an extra lucky piece of fruit.

13. Lentils

Similar to black-eyed peas, lentils are a type of legume that looks like little coins. They’re typically eaten in Italy (and in other countries) on New Year’s to bring luck and good fortune. The red lentil hummus would make a great New Year’s Eve party snack, while the Mediterranean lentil salad would be a refreshing dish on New Year’s Day.

As lentils are soaked in water, they expand in an act that many believe symbolizes prosperity. Wintertime is great for a hearty bowl of pasta, so turn your sights towards a prosperous year with a big pot of our favorite lentil bolognese.

Lentils are eaten across the world for the New Year because the tiny legumes are said to look like little coins that will bring prosperity in the coming year—and we all could use more of those. From Italy to the Czech Republic to Brazil whether prepared in a stew, served with pork, or eaten over rice lentils might help you pad out your bank account in the progressing months.

Lentils are also delicious and good for you. They are also a great pork alternative for vegetarians.

Pretzels, a good luck food © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Pretzels

The breaking of a New Year’s pretzel (or neujahrsbrezel) for luck and prosperity is a long-time German tradition. It can be eaten either at midnight or for breakfast on New Year’s Day. Unlike regular savory pretzels, these are made of sweet enriched dough, sort of like a babka or brioche.

Many Germans ring in the New Year with a big soft pretzel to symbolize good luck, health, and prosperity in the year ahead. According to History.com, children in the 17th century also wore pretzel necklaces on New Year’s.

If you’re a pretzel purist, consider making homemade soft pretzels or cinnamon sugar crunch pretzels or even just go store-bought maybe alongside some homemade pub cheese or funfetti dip? What’s really important is sharing and breaking them with loved ones (the pretzels also represent interconnectedness), so you do you.

15. Fortune Cookies

Kick off the New Year with messages of luck, hope, and prosperity for your friends and family. Slide each personalized message into a handmade cookie (yes, you really can make your fortune cookies at home). If your loved ones have a good sense of humor, consider swapping in a joke or two—starting the New Year off with laughter can’t be a bad thing! If you’re crunched for time, you can pick up a set of pre-made fortune cookies before the evening begins.

What not to eat

Unless you want to tempt fate, you should avoid eating the following foods because they are thought to bring bad luck on New Year’s Day.

Beef and poultry: Think of why we eat pork: Pigs root around, moving forward. Cows eat standing still (which is what will happen to you if you eat beef). Even worse, chickens and turkeys scratch backward. That not what you want in 2023.

Shellfish: Lobsters and crabs swim backward and sideways and (you probably sense a theme here) you want to eat only foods that move you forward. (Most fish swim forward, but skip catfish as they are bottom dwellers).

No white foods: In Chinese culture, all-white foods—eggs, white cheese, tofu—are unlucky on New Year’s Day because white is thought to symbolize death.

Worth Pondering…

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.

—Brad Paisley