Top 10 International Holiday Food Traditions


Winter Solstice in Korea

Winter solstice is a big deal in Korea. Solstice occurs around Dec. 21 (depending on the alignment of the Earth to the sun) and has the least amount of daytime and most amount of nighttime of any other 24-hour period in the year. The solstice signals a longer days and is celebrated in many parts of the world.

Korean celebration of winter solstice revolves around red bean paste porridge, a rich, stick-to-your ribs soup. To make it, cook the red beans until they form a paste, and then add small balls made of rice that is equally overcooked.

In Korea, the red beans symbolize the chasing away of bad spirits, and the rice balls symbolize new life [source: Korea Tourism Organization]. It's traditional to eat one rice ball for each year of your life. Because chilly weather on winter solstice is believed to bring better fortune and health for the coming year than warm weather, what you really want is a frigid, cold day in which to savor your warm porridge.

In Italy, as the next page indicates, the New Year can bring riches if you eat one particular food.