Eat Right To Be Lucky in the New Year



A typical southern New Years dinner
  • A typical Southern New Year's dinner
If you grew up in the South — or you’ve been here any length of time — you know that on New Year’s Day, there are several foods you just have to eat in order to have good fortune for the rest of the year. It’s pretty easy to figure out the traditional foods just from a trip to the grocery. You’ll find the requisite blackeyed peas, greens and ham on sale and probably at the front of the store.

As the legends go, blackeyed peas represent coins and greens are dollar bills, and eating them is supposed to bring good financial fortune in the new year along, with the cornbread that is said to represent gold. Eating ham or pork is supposed to bring general good luck. Those of us who are vegetarian tend to stick with the marzipan pig in hopes of it satisfying Lady Luck (though my mom is still convinced that I am doing myself an extreme disservice by not eating ham on New Year’s Day).

Though a meal of blackeyed peas, stewed greens, ham and cornbread is perfectly acceptable for a New Year’s Day meal, those of us who’ve been observing the tradition for many years like to change it up a little bit. My sister-in-law likes to make a blackeyed pea gumbo, for example; though a lot of people prefer Hoppin’ John. I might have a blackeyed pea burger on corncakes with a chopped kale salad instead. I’ve also subtsituted pan-seared Brussels sprouts for greens.

What’s on your plate for New Year’s dinner?

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