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Every culture has its New Year — a moveable feast, if that culture’s calendar is lunar, as are those of most Asian countries.

And most New Yearses, no matter when they fall, are loaded with expectations of, if not dramatic self-improvement (that seems to be primarily an American custom, vigorous self-reinventors that we are), then with the idea of using the day to predict or seek luck and good fortune. Of going after it, often in some way propitiating fate, the gods or one’s ancestors.

And I’m just going to say to , 2018: Please be more civil, kind, thoughtful, generous and more evenhanded with all of us. And I’d like to do this with a generous and joyful heart; because, call me crazy, but I think a heart that is more like that than like a piece of beef jerky makes me and everyone I come in contact with a little happier, and thus spreads the sense of luckiness at least a little farther.

And if you’re in contact with any upcoming years — particularly the next one — and these years happen to resemble you, would you mind taking them with you? I’m not going to reiterate all the reasons why you, 2017 — I’m going to be blunt here, and use the technical term — sucked. Please bring us more luck — I’m talking the good kind, brought to more people. And among my intended behaviors of civility, kindness, et al., will be this: to cook well, deliciously and healthfully, and to serve others what I cook.

In parts of Italy, a round, almond-filled, snake-shaped cake is eaten, promising a sweet year, and one in which the less desirable parts of the past may be sloughed off as the snake sheds its skin (this pastry might be particularly appropriate at the changing of the guard between 20).

And as good to eat as they are reputed to be lucky.

If you take a closer look at those dishes, you can also get a good idea of what human beings equate luck .

(Money is a major contender, but by no means the only one.

Then there’s my Brazilian Style Collard Green Salad. A few brief years ago, the idea of eating raw collard greens would have hardly been comprehensible to most Americans, especially Southerners.

But times have changed with the advent of kale salads.

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Another plus: Unlike a salad of more tender greens, such as mesclun, this dish is happy to wait, just as good an hour or two after being made as it is immediately. Make sure your slicing knife is good and sharp, though; the only trick, as mentioned, is slicing the greens very, very thinly. Just pack the ribboned greens into zip-top plastic bags and refrigerate until a couple of hours before serving. A small but important part of the Rouse family Christmas tradition had been rediscovered. “We are going to keep up the tradition, to start it again.

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