Posted by: Sunset Rentals | December 29, 2011

Legends and Luck Influence New Year’s Day Meals in the South

Hilton Head vacation rentalsTo Southerners, preparing a meal on New Year’s Day is a way to pay tribute to the past while celebrating the promise of a new year.

It’s a meal that reflects what our ancestors ate for good luck in hard times: “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold.” This practice has been handed down for generations, and while the recipes vary slightly from family to family, the sentiment and ingredients are still the same.

The peas served are either black-eyed peas or cowpeas in most areas cooked with a ham hock or fat back and served with rice, chopped onion and sliced bacon, seasoned with a bit of salt. This dish is often called Hoppin’ John and some believe you should eat one pea for every day in the New Year. Since the peas symbolize coins, sometimes coins are placed under the bowl of Hoppin’ John, or even added to the pot.

Greens can be collard, kale, chard or turnip greens. You can cook them with smoked bacon and the more pork they are cooked with, the more luck. Greens represent “folding money,” and who can’t use a little more folding money?

Cornbread not only represents the prospect of gold and wealth, it also represents the humble times our ancestors experienced. Golden cheese and bits of corn are said to intensify prospects.

People around the world have various traditions for New Year’s Day meals, and if you look carefully, there are many similarities as we all wish for wealth, health and prosperity in the New Year. What are your traditions?

Happy New Year!

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